A bill to legalize Jewish communities inadvertently built on land that was privately owned by Arabs from the Palestinian Authority has passed its first reading in the Knesset plenum.
Known as the Regulations Bill, the law is intended to put an end to the endless controversies over some 3,200 homes within existing communities built on land allegedly privately owned PA Arabs. Most were built at least a generation ago, some even more.
Lots with registered title deeds or which can be registered would transfer to the Custodian of Abandoned Properties until a resolution to the conflict is reached. Until that time, Israel would pay the owner/s of the lot a financial compensation of 125 percent of the value of the property – or would instead offer an alternative lot in exchange.
The bill has been tweaked and tweaked again in order to gain enough support to ensure its passage through the Knesset despite opposition by Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, who expressed concern it won’t withstand international legal scrutiny.
The measure, opposed by Likud MK Benny Begin, passed by a vote of 58-51 and, as an application of Israeli law to territory, is seen by many analysts as a first step towards annexation of Area C.
It must still pass two more readings in the Knesset plenum before it becomes law, and then must withstand an appeal in the High Court of Justice.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry looked tired Sunday afternoon (Dec. 4) as he sat down with lead columnist Jeff Goldberg of The Atlantic to address an Israeli-American audience at The Saban Forum in Washington, D.C.
Israel, he said, “is moving in the wrong direction.”
The United States, meanwhile, has “never ever shied away from vetoing a resolution or standing up against an unfair and biased resolution at the UN, at the Human Rights Council, at UNESCO, you name it!” Ever a loyal ally, America stands strong for Israel — but there is “no status quo” and as a friend who feels “genuinely passionate about Israel,” John Kerry felt duty bound to try to help Israelis correct course if possible.
The Secretary begin speaking at the time stamp 44:08.
“I have to share with you facts,” Kerry told the participants, after running down the list of benefits Israel had enjoyed under the administration of President Barack Obama. “I come to you as somebody who is concerned for the safety and the security of the State of Israel, for the long-term ability of the State of Israel to be able to be what it has dreamt of being, and what the people of Israel, I believe, want it to be.”
Apparently, Israel’s electoral process, its legislative branch via the Knesset, its parliament, and its judiciary via the High Court of Justice and its Supreme Court, apparently aren’t relevant as a reflection of that desire.
“I’m here as someone defending Israel’s need for security,” Kerry went on, adding, “The questions I raise about Israel are not because I don’t care about Israel, but because we do care,” suddenly switching to the magisterial “we” form.
“It’s because we want to be able to see this thing develop into the full-blossomed beacon that Israel has the potential of being,” he continued, listing the numerous fields in which Israel is leading the way, such as agriculture, technology and finance, pointing out how Israel could be “sharing with Egypt, with Jordan… (could it be that Mr. Secretary has forgotten Israel has peace treaties and natural resource agreements with both of these nations?) … with the Emirates, with Saudi Arabia, with all of these countries.”
But, he said, the issue is: “Where are we going?
“Let me tell you,” he warned, “There.will.be.no.separate.peace.between.Israel.and.the.Arab.world.
“I want to make that very clear to all of you,” he emphasized. “The Arab world is in a very different place now. There will be no advance and separate peace with the Arab world without the Palestinian process and without the Palestinian peace. Everybody needs to understand that. That is a hard reality.
“There is a basic choice that has to be made by Israel. Are there going to be continued settlements.. or is there going to be separate and the creation of two states?”
Kerry began a long discussion about the Oslo Accords, explaining their origin and sketching out a quick review of their progress and what he believes was the outcome. But the Secretary skipped over some parts, mixed up the timeline and didn’t mention all the terror attacks and violations by the Palestinian Authority that led to the Oslo Accords never quite being carried out the way the script was originally written.
“Now, when Oslo was signed in 1993, … there were 110,000 settlers in the West Bank. Today there are 385,000 settlers… about 90,000 settlers living outside of the barrier, and the barrier, I want to remind everyone here, was established by Israel. It’s a line — not a border, but still a line, established by Israel. There are 129 settlements, and there are about 100 outposts, and outposts, as you all know, are illegal,” Kerry said, his voice beginning to rise with outrage.
“Many of these outposts are built on what is considered to be private Palestinian land,” he stated, without offering a shred of proof, documentation, or even one source for the claim.
“Since Obama became president, the population outside of the barrier in the West Bank has increased by 20,000 people,” he said.
“Leaders, again, in Israel — certain leaders — are fond of saying, “well, the settlements aren’t the reason and the cause for the crisis. No, they’re not. I’m not pretending they are. I’m not here to tell you that the settlements are the reason for the conflict. No, they’re not. But I also cannot accept the notion that they do not affect the peace process. That they aren’t a barrier to the capacity to have peace.
“And I’ll tell you why I know that. Because the Left in Israel is telling everybody they are a barrier to peace and the Right that supports it, openly supports it, because they don’t want peace.
“They believe it’s the greater Israel. They are pursuing a policy of Greater Judea – Samaria, building out into the West Bank, because they believe it belongs to them, and they want it to block the peace!
“Because they want those places to belong to Israel. That’s the history of the settler movement, my friends.
“Out of the mouths of ministers in the current government come profoundly disturbing statements publicly, to whit: Naftali Bennett, said a few days ago, weeks ago, This represents the end of the era of the two-state solution. And, more than 50 percent of the ministers in the current government have publicly stated they are opposed to a Palestinian state, and there will be no Palestinian state.
“So this is the predicament. This is where we find ourselves… Let me give you the alternatives here, folks.
“What is your vision of a unitary state?
“Are you going to run the schools? Are you going to continue to have these roads that are completely checkpointed and blocked that lead to this little island all by itself of the settlement? And the Palestinians are going to live over here? (With this, the Secretary swept his hand over to the other side, a gesture to show isolation; a gesture that showed his frustration and angst.)
“Are they going to vote? And if they’re a majority of the population, are they going to have a Palestinian prime minister of Israel?
“Is it going to be a Jewish State?” Kerry asked. He sounded close to despair.
It’s a new week in the Holy Land but some things are still around, like attacks on the roads of Judea, Samaria, the Binyamin region, Gush Etzion, mixed neighborhoods in Jerusalem and the like.
Early Sunday afternoon in the Binyamin region, local sources reported a stoning attack near the junction leading to the Arab town of Hizme. The attackers were hurling rocks at Israeli forces stationed at the site. No physical injuries were reported. All personnel returned safely to base.
Late in the day, around dusk, Arab terrorists firebombed the western side of the security fence around the Jewish community of Kiryat Netafim, igniting a fire in the process. Security personnel were able to extinguish the blaze, and IDF forces searched for the attackers.
At about the same time, other Arab attackers hurled rocks at Israeli drivers traveling on the highway between the Jewish communities of Psagot and Kochav Ya’akov. No one was physically injured but at least one vehicle was damaged. Israeli security forces were deployed to the site.
The opposition Yesh Atid party initiated a no-confidence gesture Sunday, calling for dissolution of Israel’s parliament and new elections to be held.
Led by Yair Lapid, the centrist-left party plans to present a bill to dissolve the Knesset on Wednesday. If it passes, elections would be held 90 days from the third reading of the bill.
The move comes after an opinion poll, if you can trust the polls, showed Yesh Atid running neck-and-neck with the leading Likud party, bolstering the centrist party’s confidence.
The Likud’s drop in popularity is due in part to deep divisions over how to deal with the dilemma presented by the community of Amona, where a very small part of the land on which it sits might be privately owned.
For that reason, the Israeli High Court of Justice ruled in favor of a petition to destroy the entire town, evicting more than 200 men, women and children from their homes of more than a decade.
“The citizens of Israel deserve more,” proclaimed a news release from the Yesh Atid central office.
“The government of Israel is entirely self-involved with its own political rifts and with anything but what is important to the citizens of Israel… There have been no substantive discussions in any government body over where the country is heading: Not in the economic, social, diplomatic or security realms,” the party claimed.
IDF and security forces arrested 15 wanted Arabs in nightly raids in Judea and Samaria, on suspicion of involvement in terrorism along with violence towards civilians and security forces. Seven of the detained are wanted Hamas terrorists. They were transported for questioning.
During search operations in the village of Katana, the IDF seized several knives and uniforms that were passed to security forces.
A Police spokesperson stated the Israel police arrested three additional suspects on Tuesday morning, during police and IDF operations in the village of Bet Awa near Hebron, on suspicion of making and possessing seven improvised pipe bombs. The bombs were all destroyed by bomb disposal experts and the investigation is still ongoing.