Energy Minister:
Energy Minister: Arabs prefer compensation to land

Minister Yuval Steinitz says destruction of Jewish homes is political, not legal; Arabs would prefer compensation and not the land itself.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Yuval Steinitz
Yuval Steinitz
צילום: מארק ישראל סאלם, פלאש 90

Energy Minister MK Yuval Steinitz (Likud) expressed his support for the Regulation Law that is intended to legalize the construction of homes on land claimed to be private Arab land - although no one has claimed it - by allowing for compensation, and warned that the destruction of Amona would be a "tragedy."

"It's not about going around the law, but about changing it," Steinitz told Channel 10. "This tragedy will cause losses to everyone. The Jews will lose their homes, and the Arabs will lose the compensation that they could have received, worth millions of shekels. The Palestinian Authority is trying to make trouble at everyone else's expense."

Minister Steinitz said that the Arabs themselves also prefer to receive compensation instead of the actual land.

"If someone would prove that Ramat Aviv C (a Tel Aviv suburb built on Arab land, ed.) belongs to him, wouldn't the government tell him just to take the compensation for it? The destruction is a result of politics, and the situation that we've created is absurd," he said.

"The private Arab would prefer to receive compensation. The PA is forcing him to request destruction instead, and the one agreeing to allow this forced choice is the State of Israel," Steinitz added.

On Friday, Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home) announced that his party would present to the government a "general regulation reform" for Judea and Samaria in the near future. He attacked the members of the Knesset and the Likud who had caused the problematic legal situation in Judea and Samaria.

Bennett mentioned that in February 2011, the Netanyahu government advanced a decision to destroy Jewish construction which was built in good faith on private land, even though the government itself had planned the construction and it was possible to legalize it.

He claimed that there are legal solutions for these situations.

"So, for example, if someone within the Green Line (pre-1967 Armistice lines, ed.) innocently built on someone else's land, we don't destroy his house. Instead we financially compensate the owner (according to section 23 of the land law). It should be emphasized that in the vast majority of cases in Judea and Samaria, there is no one who actually claims that the land is his," Bennett explained.

"Netanyahu, his government, and those who were his ministers at the time, decided to destroy Jewish buildings, such as those in Gush Etzion at Netiv Ha'avot. The leftist organizations have discovered a new method of attack. They have been beaten roundly in the elections. The nation is sick of the leftists' policies, and is not interested in creating 'Palestine' either So, the leftists have decided to uproot Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria by using their new method of flooding the Supreme Court [with absentee claims of ownership]."

"But you know what's absurd?" Bennett explained, "When, as they have now, leftist organizations petition the Supreme Court to fulfill their goal of destroying Jewish construction, the response they get since the beginning of the Netanyahu-Barak government is, 'Fine, we'll destroy. Just give us a little time.' Instead of replying, 'No way, we're not allowed to destroy Jewish homes, we'll regulate them,' they just go along with the petitions. Amazing.

"On the other hand, the Supreme Court did give them time, but in the end it got fed up and decided, 'You, as the government, said that you would destroy the houses, so honor your decision and destroy these buildings.' And that's how we got to where we are now."

Bennett then attacked the Likud members who signed the petition to support the Regulation Law.

"Now, at the eleventh hour, the Likud members who are signed the petition, suddenly woke up. After there was already a decisive and final ruling by the Supreme Court to destroy these homes, what are those same Likud members doing? Signing petitions. They are yelling, 'The Supreme Court is terrible.' They're acting very right wing, despite the fact that more than a few of them, including the Prime Minister himself, voted in favor of the disengagement from Gush Katif."

According to Bennett, there is only one thing that Likud will not do, which is to cancel that same miserable decision to destroy Jewish homes. This decision was made by the Netanyahu-Barak government.

"When we entered the government, and Ayelet Shaked entered the Justice Ministry, we inherited this situation, which had been brought upon us by a failed and indolent Likud administration. We are determined to get Israel out of this mess," Bennett said.

Bennett explained that there are two major problems which need to be solved. The first one is tactical: Amona. The second one is strategic, and it is the future of the other towns in Judea and Samaria.

"Amona is a tactical problem because the Supreme Court has already ruled on the matter," he said. "We are working on a complicated plan. The idea is that the houses will stay on the same hilltop, but will be moved a few meters over. At the same time, we are studying the Regulation Law's [legal] feasibility, and doing all we can. The truth is that a magic solution such as what Likud is trying to sell us does not exist."

The Education Minister explained that there is a strategic issue which casts a dark shadow.

"After what the Netanyahu government decided in 2011, thousands of older homes in Judea and Samaria are being threatened. These include homes in Ofra, Elon Moreh, Neve Daniel, and others.

"This is why we have decided to create a new 'general regulation reform' in Judea and Samaria. We are not interested in gluing together local tactical solutions. We want a general reform which will legalize all of the building in Judea and Samaria in one fell swoop, thereby preventing future expulsions. We do not want to be killing lone hornets. We want to get rid of the nest.

"Unlike those who are busy signing petitions, we are not shouting slogans. It's easy to talk, to say, 'We have to save Amona,' after you yourself have created the problem."

The reform, which is being led by Jewish Home ministers, will soon be presented to the Knesset.

"We are currently preparing a comprehensive reform. Within a short time, we will complete the international legal work, and we will ask that this reform be implemented by the government," Bennett promised.

"Part of the reform will require Netanyahu to cancel his previous decision from 2011. He will need to say: From now on, Jewish building will be legalized. I am waiting to see the Likud members working together with us, with Netanyahu at their head.".