Opinion |

5 Reasons Why Israeli Lawmakers Must Vote Against the Outpost Legalization Bill

The State of Israel has never applied its sovereignty to the West Bank - and for very good reason. Passing a law regulating Arab property ownership would be a disastrous move and spell the end of the settlement enterprise.

Dan Meridor
Dan Meridor
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A man covered praying in the outpost of Amona in the West Bank, December 2016.
A man covered praying in the outpost of Amona in the West Bank, December 2016.Credit: Baz Ratner/Reuters
Dan Meridor
Dan Meridor

1. Don’t cross a line we’ve never crossed before. The Knesset has never enacted legislation regulating Arabs' property ownership in Judea and Samaria. The Knesset was elected by Israelis and legislates for them. The Arabs of Judea and Samaria did not vote for the Knesset, and it has no authority to legislate for them. These are basic principles of democracy and Israeli law. As a rule, elected officials legislate for their constituents and those within the area of their jurisdiction, not others.

No government in Israel has applied its sovereignty to the West Bank – not former Likud prime ministers Menachem Begin or Yitzhak Shamir. They understood the obvious: If you want to pass legislation for the West Bank, you have to extend your sovereignty and allow the residents of Judea and Samaria the right to become citizens and vote in Knesset elections. And the meaning is clear.

We are allowed to control the land we hold with a “belligerent occupation,” and are permitted to act there for our security purposes but not for other purposes. This is set not only by international law but also Israeli law.

2. The proposed law is an unfair one and will bring disgrace upon our law book. It was not without reason that MK Benny Begin – a “Greater Israel” supporter – dubbed it “the robbery law.” Don’t legislate evil laws and don’t authorize theft.

3. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that this law is liable to bring us to the International Criminal Court. If he’s right, how can we avoid a discussion on the legality of the settlements in this court? And don’t say international law has no teeth. That’s exactly what all those tried before it thought. At the Palestinians’ request, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda is soon to decide whether Palestine is a country and whether the court will discuss crimes committed in its territory. The UN General Assembly has already decided by a huge majority that Palestine is a country. And in the Rome Statute documents that established the court, it is clearly stated that settlement is illegal. Do we really want to go there?

Such a decision by the court would endanger the entire settlement enterprise, including Jerusalem and the “settlement blocs,” and the chance to include them in Israeli territory. Why did you involve us in such a risk? It’s extremely serious and dangerous. Be careful with your actions.

4. The struggle for our right to settle in Judea and Samaria has been going on for 50 years, without success in the international arena. Despite that, no international instruments of coercion have been used against us, partly because we were always careful to say that we were not taking private land from Arab residents in order to build settlements. We have obligated ourselves to this in the High Court of Justice, and have also committed ourselves to the world. Don’t break this just, legal and diplomatic principle.

Apart from that, what image of settlement are we creating around the world? By legislating this law, you will be playing into the hands of the Palestine Liberation Organization and all our enemies and opponents: Look, they’ll say, here’s proof that the settlements are an act of theft.

5. And don’t say: We’ll pass the law and then the High Court will overturn it; our hands won’t be spilling this blood. This is not a statement of leaders but of cowards. It will certainly allow the demagogues among us to breathe a sigh of relief that the High Court saved Israel from its actions, and to immediately accuse the court of going beyond its political authority, etc. It’s shameful.

This proposed law is unjust and unconstitutional. It goes against the fundamental principles of Israeli law. It is harmful to Israel and endangers all settlement in Judea and Samaria. Vote against it. Do not go down in the annals of Knesset history as someone who supported this evil and dangerous proposal.

The writer is a former justice minister and Likud MK.

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