Outpost Bill Making a Comeback

A bill to normalize Jewish communities in Yesha may be headed for the plenum despite being killed in committee last week

Gabe Kahn. ,

MK Orlev
MK Orlev
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Reports of the death of Minister of Welfare and Social Services Zevulun Orlev's bill to normalize communities in Judea and Samaria may have been exaggerated.

Betzalel Smotrich of the ‘Regavim’ movement told Arutz Sheva, "On the contrary, the bill is gaining momentum. We have a majority of ministers and MKs who support Orlev's bill to normalize the outposts."

"We are convinced that, in a week and half, we will prevail in the Ministerial Committee for Legislation and move to legislative proceedings in the plenum," he added.

Orlev's bill would forbid eviction and demolition orders for Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria that have stood for four years and have at least twenty families.

It also stipulates that all petitions disputing land claims must be proven through accepted evidentiary means in a court competent to hear the case. Should such a claim be found valid the court would be directed to order monetary compensation or alternative grant of land for the plaintiff.

Smotrich also dismissed rumors there was a deal in the works to relocate Migron, as was done with Ramat Gilad.  “There is no discussion of relocating Migron. We only accept full legalization."

"Unfortunately, Benny Begin is wrong and misleading the Prime Minister when he says a deal to move Migron is possible," Smotrich added. "The residents of Migron do not agree and there is no way in the world they will agree to the destruction of their homes."

Last Sunday the Ministerial Committee for Legislation, whose support for new laws is critical, tabled the law on orders from Prime Minsiter Binyamin Netanyahu.

"What happened last Sunday was not the end," Smotrich explained. "We redirected all our energies into the bill to normalize the outposts and to establish Israeli municipalities for future generations."

"We hope the PM will soon realize that he doesn’t want demolitions, and it is time the stable right wing coalition has its say and passes the law," he added.

Observers say an inability to find an equitable solution that satisfies nationalists in the Likud and coalition could lead to the collapse of the Netanyahu government.

All of the faction heads in Netanyahu's coalition and 20 of the 27 Likud lawmakers in his faction have demanded a solution other than demolitions be found for Jewish communities built on disputed land.

The current government crisis was sparked by a ruling by Israel's Supreme Court that all non-state land in Judea and Samaria is presumptive 'Arab Land.' The high court refused to examine evidence to the contrary in the case brought before it because it does not deal in evidentiary questions.

Critics say the court should have referred the case to a lower court competent to evaluate evidence and claims of ownership and that refusing to do so amounted to advancing an ideological agenda under the color of law.

The problem has been exacerbated by Defense Minister Ehud Barak who has pressed ahead with his controversial demolition agenda despite the Prime Minister's search for alternative solutions.

The recent deal to move Ramat Gilad several dozens of meters into the community of Karnei Shomron in return for normalization was rejected by Barak who raced to destroy the community in the night.

The move outraged youth in Judea and Samaria who clashed with IDF forces when news of the demolition order spread. The controversial riot at the Ephraim Brigade headquarters forced the IDF to stand down.

The deal to relocate Ramat Gilad was subsequently approved.

Critics of the deal, however, say the Ramat Gilad deal only serves to delay future demolitions and does not represent a change in policy the way Orlev's bill does.