The Regulation Act, which was intended to provide a legal solution for Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria that are being sued by Arab claimants, compelling plaintiffs to accept higher than-market value or alternative land—rather than force via the High Court of Justice the destruction of decades-old homes, has received an unexpected show of support from Israel’s Defense Ministry, Channel 2 News reported Tuesday night.
Five months after its passage by the Knesset, an opinion prepared by the Defense Ministry suggests that the law actually helps more Arab owners of illegal homes than it does Jewish settlers.
At the time of its passage, the Regulation Act received strong criticism from the EU and the Obama Administration, suggesting it was a form of apartheid. But reality on the ground proved differently:
Since the passage of the law, there has been a significant decrease in the scope of demolitions of illegal Arab construction in Judea and Samaria, says the Defense Ministry. It notes that while the law prevents enforcement procedures against 2,000 illegal structures belonging to Israelis that are built on allegedly Arab-owned land, it is also making it difficult for the authorities and the IDF to act against more than 10,000 illegal Arab structures.
MK Bezalel Smotrich (Habayit Hayehudi) issued a response to the Channel 2 report, saying “the Defense Ministry’s opinion proves that the Regulation Act is egalitarian and constitutional law, and, contrary to the false claims of its opponents, it is not discriminatory.”
“Now I expect the Attorney General to show some integrity and courage and to remove his opposition to the law,” Smotrich continued, arguing that “the Ministry’s opinion also exposes the hypocrisy of opponents of the law who would not have dreamed of demolishing illegal Arab construction. Only a few weeks ago, the Security Cabinet decided to whitewash twenty thousand illegal structures belonging Arabs in Area C. For many years, selective enforcement in Judea and Samaria has been reserved for Jews only.”
Smotrich concluded that “the Regulation Act will put a stop to the absurdity of demolishing the homes of those who had been sent by the State in good faith to settlements and neighborhoods established on unregulated land, and will lead to the regulation of thousands of structures in well-off neighborhoods and settlements.”