The coalition’s Ministerial Committee for Legislation passed on Sunday evening the Regulation Law, popularly referred to as the Amona bill or Normalization Law, which would normalize the status of Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria whose status is problematic and potentially stave off the demolition of the town of Amona.
The proposed piece of legislation, sponsored by MKs Yoav Kish (Likud), Bezalel Smotrich (Jewish Home) and Shuli Mualem (Jewish Home), was unanimously endorsed by the committee, which meets each Sunday and is charged with determining which bills the coalition will back – and which it will oppose.
The committee’s support for the law is a crucial step towards its passage.
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home) praised the decision, saying it would block what she decried as the anti-democratic tactics of far-left NGOs.
“This government will normalize the settlements in Judea and Samaria, even against efforts by the far-left to engage in ‘lawfare’. The way to influence [policy] on the settlement map of Judea and Samaria is through elections, not through the improper means utilize by these groups today.”
If passed by the Knesset, the law will normalize towns built on non-government land which received government support and infrastructure, but lacked a formal building plan at the outset, as is often the case in new Israeli communities on both sides of the pre-1967 borders.
Up until now, such communities in Judea and Samaria have been vulnerable to claims brought by NGOs who say they are representing Arab owners or by Arabs from the Palestinian Authority and abroad, that the land upon which the towns were built belongs to them. The law allows for compensating claimants who prove ownership, as is the case in pre-1967 Israel. Judea and Samaria land claims were, up to now, settled on the basis of Jordanian Law and had no precedent for compensation agreements.
MK Mualem said the bill would go a long way in rectifying the situation in which many families living in towns like Amona now find themselves.
“We moved one step closer in the process of correcting this grave injustice and providing normalization for many families who serve the state, pay taxes, and built their homes legally.”
But despite the victory, added, Mualem “It is too early to say that we won.”
The bill must still pass the Knesset, though with the backing of the coalition it is likely to pass.
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit criticized the law, saying it was problematic, and potentially in contravention of international norms. He told the committee that he would not defend the law on behalf of the government should it be challenged in the Supreme Court. However, MK Uri Ariel (Jewish Home) replied that there are precedents for retaining an outside lawyer to defend new laws.
Earlier on Sunday, Prime Minister Netanyahu urged members of the Likud party not to back the law, calling for the bill to be delayed until the Supreme Court responds to the government’s request for a delay in the planned demolition of Amona.
Amona, a town of some 40 families north of Jerusalem, is slated for evacuation on December 25th.