MK Carmel Shama Hacohen (Likud) will present next week a bill to the Knesset’s Ministerial Committee on Legislation. The bill will state that it would not be permitted to destroy a home with people living in it in Judea and Samaria without permission from the Knesset’s Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee. The law would apply to existing demolition orders, such as those against the home of the fallen soldier Major Eliraz Peretz, who was killed last year in a battle with terrorists.
Joining Shamah Hacohen in initiating the bill are Mks Yulia Shamalov-Berkowitz, Ze'ev Elkin, and Aryeh Eldad. The proposed legislation states that “an IDF commander shall not order the demolition of a building owned by an Israeli citizen, a corporation registered in Israel or a corporation established by law in Israel, but with the approval of the Knesset's Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee.”
The bill’s explanatory notes say that construction and demolition permit considerations in Judea and Samaria are different than in other places and such require greater sensitivity. “Currently, the legal authority on decisions concerning the demolition of homes in Judea and Samaria is the IDF commander in the region, but in practice the defense minister is the sole authority,” read the notes. “The purpose of the bill is to give the authority to the Knesset Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee so that such a fateful and important decision is not in the hands of one person but will be made by a number of MKs who shall have all the considerations, including military and security considerations. In addition, this legislation will create a normative basis of hypersensitivity and will serve as an additional brake before a decision regarding the demolition of homes of fallen IDF soldiers is made.”
MK Shama Hacohen said of the bill: “Today, the authority who makes the decision is the defense minister who is one person. The authority must be given to members of Knesset. It is obvious that the defense minister and Knesset members both have political considerations but the decision cannot solely be the minister’s. I am sure that the members of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee will operate according to the above considerations so that military and security considerations will also be taken into account.”
Meanwhile on Thursday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak asked the High Court for a one-month extension to provide an updated answer to a "Peace Now" motion against Jewish homes in a Samaria neighborhood, including the Peretz home. The Defense Ministry's request says that Barak, as well as the IDF and the police, are checking possible alternatives to the demolition of the homes and that the matter will be brought before Attorney General Yehudah Weinstein.
Barak told the court that the Defense Ministry and the IDF have been conducting a detailed survey of the land upon which the homes stand, to determine what part of it, if any, was not legally appropriated.