A proposal to be discussed in the Knesset House Committee is already starting a storm, according to an Israel Channel 2 News report: Committee Chairman David Bitan (Likud) seeks to award preferential treatment to products from the settlements in acquisitions made using the Knesset budget. Despite the assessment that the proposal will likely encounter legal difficulties, Bitan is determined to push the resolution, arguing that “the duty of the Parliament is to support the residents.” The Left is on a rampage, arguing that “the Knesset cannot be turned into a tool for realizing political preferences.”
The Knesset House Committee will discuss on Tuesday the proposal, which grants preference to products from Judea and Samaria in acquisitions carried out with the Knesset budget, as per the decision of committee chairman Bitan. As expected, adding the issue on the committee’s at the last minute is also considered controversial, especially among the left-wing MKs.
The proposal will give priority to products from the settlements by a margin of 15% in each bid. Officials in the Judiciary say that the proposal may face difficulties because of the need for equality in tenders, but MK Bitan is determined to push the idea through. He said the proposal is declarative, in response to the fact that the settlements have been the victims of an international boycott.
“It is the duty of the Israeli parliament to support its citizens,” said Bitan. “We must convey the message to the Europeans that a boycott would not advance peace with the Palestinians. The European move has the bad odor of hatred and proves how little they know the area where we live and its dynamics. The Israeli industry in Judea and Samaria supports thousands of Palestinian families.”
MK Dov Khenin (Joint Arab List) expressed strong opposition to the proposal and appealed to the Speaker of the House to suspend the Knesset House committee hearing Tuesday. “The Knesset is an institution that represents all the citizens of Israel and can’t be used as a tool for the realization of the political preferences of the majority over the minority,” he said.
“The planned process is particularly extreme because it divides the citizens in our country into first and second class, with the settlers in first class and the rest of the citizens and businesses behind them,” Khenin added. Yesh Atid MKs Meir Cohen, Haim Yellin and Elazar Stern also intend to approach the Knesset Speaker to cancel Tuesday’s hearing.
“This political belligerence will mainly hurt the settlers in Judea and Samaria,” said MK Stern. “It’s cheap populism of the extreme right-wing and their Knesset servants. Where were they during [the Gaza and Lebanon conflicts]? These things lead to alienation and hurt mainly trhe way people feel about the settlers.”
It should be pointed out that Israeli settlements along the Gaza Strip and the Lebanese border have never been the subject of a directed, international boycott.