Sunday’s cabinet meeting witnessed an escalation of the conflict between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud) and Education Minister and Habayit Hayehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett, over the fate of a Jewish settlement named Amona in Samaria. The clock is ticking on the demolition of Amona and the evacuation of between 40 and 50 families, as decreed by the Supreme Court — no later than December 25, 2016. Bennett proposed the cabinet debate the proposed Arrangements Act, which compels Arab claimants to accept market value compensation for their land. Netanyahu attacked the idea, calling it “childish and irresponsible,” suggesting it might earn a moment’s relief, while his AG is trying to get a seven-month postponement from the court.
A whopping 25 out of Netanyahu’s 30 Knesset Members have signed a commitment to pass the Arrangements Act, which would force a war between the government and the high court. In 2014, the high court struck down a lower court’s judgement awarding $85,700 to 6 (anonymous) Arab plaintiffs who claimed they had been affected by the Amona settlement on their land.
Things went wild at the meeting when Minister Miri Regev (Likud) stated that “the Prime Minister has never said that he opposes the Arrangements Act.” Netanyahu turned to her and said, “I don’t need to be defended from the spins, both of politicians and the media.” At which point Regev continued, saying “it’s a shame Habayit Hayehudi are making it look as if only they support the arrangements and the Likud doesn’t.” So Bennett confronted the PM, asking if he really did support the proposed bill, and Regev exclaimed, “Of course he supports the Arrangements Act.” So Netanyahu turned on her, saying, “I don’t need your defense, Miri, we won’t waste our time on bloggers here.” And Bennett pressed in response, “Excellent, let’s vote on the bill,” so Netanyahu called him childish.
Habayit Hayehudi has been adamant on their plan to introduce the bill for approval by the Ministerial Legislative Committee, chaired by their own Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, despite vociferous objections from AG Avichai Mandelblit. Netanyahu declared that introducing the bill now would harm his own petition that the Supreme Court postpone by seven months its decree against Amona.
Last week, Coalition Chairman David Bitan (Likud) was quoted as saying “there’s plenty of time to pass the Arrangements Act should the Supreme Court reject the state’s petition to postpone the evacuation.”
Bennett, who last week declared that Trump’s election meant the end of the Palestinian State, urged the Netanyahu government to take advantage of the change in Washington to push pro-settlement legislation. “It’s time to stop treating as second class citizens the tens of thousands of residents in Judea and Samaria who serve in the Army Reserves and pay taxes,” Bennett declared.
Habayit Hayehudi MKs Bezalel Smotrich and Shuli Mualem, who authored the Regulations Act, sent Netanyahu a letter urging him to “act in the window of opportunity that was created” and pass the bill. “The election results in the US have ended a complex relationship with the current administration and [made possible] the creation of a different relationship with the new administration,” the two MKs wrote, suggesting that “a combination of a new spirit in the White House and the fact that the US is in a period of transition in government have created a historic opportunity to confirm the Jewish settlement enterprise in Judea and Samaria.”JNi.Media