Likud lawmaker Benny Begin urged the premier on Monday not to advance a bill aimed at retroactively legalizing illegal West Bank settlement construction on private Palestinian land, saying it would endanger the settlement enterprise and harm Israel internationally.
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Begin said this to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a meeting of the Likud Knesset faction on Monday. “As prime minister but especially as the one serving as foreign minister I’m urging you not to advance this law,” Begin said, according to someone present at the meeting. “The law endangers the settlements in Judea and Samaria, it violates international law and will damage Israel’s standing in the world.”
Begin was the only Knesset member at the meeting to oppose the bill, with many others supporting it and urging Netanyahu to get it passed. Netanyahu told Begin that the bill was not being advanced at this stage, since a request had been submitted to the High Court of Justice for a seven-month delay in evicting the settlement of Amona, which is meant to be cleared next month. The bill aims to legalize Amona and other enclaves built on private Palestinian land and offer the landowners compensation.
“Calm down, Benny,” Netanyahu said. “I’m taking Israel’s international standing into consideration. For now we are dropping the idea of the regularization law and if it comes up again we’ll consider everything.”
The bill was submitted by MK Shuli Moalem-Rafaeli of Habayit Hayehudi. Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked tried to get the Ministerial Committee on Legislation to vote on the bill Sunday, given that there had been no progress on finding a solution for the homes that must be evacuated in Amona.
But a few minutes before the bill was to be voted on, Netanyahu called Shaked and her party colleague, Education Minister Naftali Bennett, aside for a consultation with Deputy Attorney General Avi Licht. During the consultation, Licht reiterated that Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit would not defend the bill before the High Court, because it violates international law. It was then decided to postpone a vote on the bill by a week.