Contentious Bill to Legalize “Outposts” Sparks Knesset Brawl But Passes First Vote

“And ye shall drive out the inhabitants of the land, and dwell therein; for unto you have I given the land to possess it.” Numbers 33:53 (The Israel Bible™)

The Knesset passed on Wednesday the preliminary reading of the ‘Legalization Bill’ intended to retroactively legalize Jewish communities built on privately-owned lands in Judea and Samaria, after the session descended into a shouting match between supporters of the measure and left-wing and Arab MKs.

MK Yoav Kish, an author of the bill, said that Jewish residents of Amona and other communities in Judea and Samaria must not be portrayed as criminals. He added that he intends to retroactively legalize Jewish communities built on privately owned land in Judea and Samaria.

“If the government makes a mistake, we will fix it. But we will not give you the opportunity to demolish,” he answered to opposition by MK Youssef Jabareen.

The vote followed a surprise announcement by Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon that his Kulanu Party would support the controversial bill. However, Kahlon also said that he would block the measure at a later stage if it becomes clear that the bill will threaten the authority or credibility of the High Court of Justice.

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It also followed a move by opposition members to force a vote earlier in the day, before Coalition members could be summoned for a vote. Wednesday morning, opposition members retracted all legislation that had been scheduled for preliminary readings in order to rush a vote on the Legalization Bill before members of the Coalition showed up for the vote. Ultimately, the move failed when the Coalition called an extended roll-call for votes on several minor bills, dragging out the morning session and giving supporters of the bill time to arrive for the vote.

Spokespeople from Amona slammed the move, saying Knesset members who supported the “dirty trick” would bear the responsibility for the demolition of a whole Israeli community, and for the violence that could break out if security forces are eventually called to evict the residents.

“We will not let Amona be turned into a scapegoat,” the residents said.

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