Israeli committee defies Netanyahu, support bill legalizing Israeli construction on Palestinian land

An Israeli ministerial committee defied Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and voted to support a bill to allow Jewish settlers in the West Bank to remain in their homes, which were constructed on what the court defined as privately owned Palestinian land. Israel’s Supreme Court had ruled the government must evacuate a few dozen families from the Jewish settlement of Amona and return the land to its Palestinian owners, but right-wing lawmakers want to pay them compensation instead and allow the settlers to stay. The government has sought an extension for the end-of-year evacuation so that it can find somewhere else for settlers to live, but the lawmakers who support the settlers’ wish to remain presented the bill to try to circumvent the ruling. Such a change in Israel’s law, if eventually approved by the parliament, would mean that Jewish settlers will be allowed to remain on property already built on land privately owned by Palestinians.

Netanyahu had insisted on delaying any political move and told his cabinet to allow the new administration of US President-Elect Donald Trump to take over in Washington before setting future policy, but Education Minister Naftali Bennett from the ultranationalist Jewish Home party and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman from the ultranationalist Yisrael Beiteinu faction, partners in Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition ignored his call to postpone the vote. “The “resolution and normalization” bill is meant to fix this. I am convinced that, just like all Likud ministers, the prime minister will give his strong support to finally correcting this injustice,” said Bennet. Following the authorization of the private members’ bill in the committee, it now heads to parliament later this week, on Wednesday, where it will be debated but it is still some distance from becoming law.