On Monday, the Knesset Plenum passed in a preliminary reading the Settlements and Neighborhoods in Regulation Procedures Bill, and Basic Law: Override (Legislative Amendments), both pieces of legislation bringing hope to the right-wing lawmakers who have been pushing them stubbornly but with little success over several years.
The Settlements and Neighborhoods in Regulation Procedures Bill, 5781-2021, sponsored by MKs Orit Strock (Religious Zionism), Ze’ev Elkin (New Hope), and Bezalel Smotrich (Religious Zionism), determines that the regulation procedures of a list of settlements in Judea and Samaria—to be determined in the course of the legislation process—will be completed within two years of the bill’s enactment into law.
Until then, these settlements will receive the full set of municipal services, water and electricity services, assistance and budgeting for setting an infrastructure and public buildings; all enforcement procedures and existing administrative orders against the settlements on the list will be suspended; and enforcement actions by the Civil Administration against them will only be carried out following direct instructions by the Prime Minister or the Minister of Defense and with the Political-Security Cabinet’s authorization. The Minister of Finance is empowered to guarantee loans to finance the purchasing of apartments in these settlements during the period of the regulation procedures.
The bill passed its preliminary reading by a majority of 45 to 30, and will be turned over to the Arrangements Committee, since no Constitution Committee has been formed yet.
The bill’s explanatory notes state: “The Government of Israel has decided to regulate the status of buildings and neighborhoods built in Judea, Samaria, and the Jordan Valley in the course of the past 20 years. However, the implementation of the decision has been delayed, despite the fact that over three years have passed since it was passed.
“To prevent unnecessary harm to the residents of the neighborhoods and settlements designated for regulation—as detailed in the appendix to the proposed bill—during the interim period of the regulation, their special status must be anchored in legislation, thereby enabling the residents a normal life and full municipal services as every citizen deserves, and to prevent unnecessary demolitions and evictions. All this is due to the state’s desire to bring about the regulation of these neighborhoods and settlements and not their demolition.”
The second bill, Basic Law: Override (Legislative Amendments), sponsored by MK Miki Zohar (Likud), to which similar bills sponsored by MKs Shlomo Karhi (Likud) and Michael Malkieli (Shas) were attached, proposes to stipulate in Basic Law: The Judiciary that only the Supreme Court shall have the unique authority to discuss the validity of laws and their conformity to various basic laws. A ruling on this matter must be handed down by a full panel of the Supreme Court, and only if all the judges on the panel have agreed clearly that the law in question contradicts a provision protected within a basic law.
The bill further proposes to stipulate in Basic Law: The Knesset that the Knesset will be able to enact a law that the court will not be able to annul or amend if the law was passed by a majority of MKs, and if the law states that it will be in force despite the content of the basic laws. Such a provision will be in force until two years have elapsed since the start of the term of the Knesset following its legislation, and the next Knesset will be able to extend it indefinitely.
This bill passed this reading by a majority of 41 to 30, and will also be turned over to the Arrangements Committee, since no Constitution Committee has been formed yet.
The bill’s explanatory notes state: “If the bill passes, the Supreme Court will be prevented from entering into the political debate in the State of Israel, thereby strengthening the democratic principle that all branches of government in the state are subject to the will of the sovereign—the people—and the principle of the rule of law in all branches of government.
“Approval of the proposed basic law will also strengthen the public status of the Supreme Court, which in recent years has suffered from a sharp decline in the level of public trust it enjoys, due to its intervention in core issues that are under public controversy in Israel and its rulings that are opposed to the laws of the Knesset and the will of the people.”