MK Waleed Taha
MK Waleed TahaDanny Shem Tov, Knesset spokesperson

The Knesset plenum on Monday evening approved the first reading of MK Waleed Taha's (Ra’am) so-called “Electricity Law”. 61 Knesset members supported the proposal and 48 opposed it. The bill will be returned to the Knesset Internal Affairs and Environment Committee to prepare it for its second and third readings.

The bill is controversial as it would approve the connection of tens of thousands of illegally built homes in the Arab sector to the electricity grid.

According to the proposal, the Minister of the Interior will be entitled to stipulate in an order that it will be possible to connect a residential building located in a certain area, defined in the order, to electricity, water or a telephone line, even without the existence of a building permit and certificate of completion for that building. The conditions for issuing the order are: A plan was submitted by one of the parties listed in the bill, the structure for which the connection was requested was established by January 1, 2018, and no construction was added after that date. The buildings in question belong to the Bedouin in the Negev.

In addition, the bill proposes that a timetable be set for consultation with the district committee and for the decision of the Minister of the Interior, as well as to determine the conditions that those who apply to connect these structures required to meet, such as an undertaking to apply for a permit within the time limit in the bill.

MK Taha argued during the discussion on the bill, “I am coming up here to introduce a law that will finally do justice to the tens of thousands of citizens who were forced to build their homes without permits because it was simply impossible to get permits. They were not allowed to ask for permits, simply because such permits were not planned for them. So not only did they not plan for them, they also punished them by not connecting them to electricity. They do not plan, nor do they connect to electricity, and then they persecute people with eviction orders, fines and demolition orders. The era of oppressing the citizen because they didn’t plan for them, this era is over.”

MK Simcha Rothman (Religious Zionist Party) replied, "The people who preach all day and all night against the regulation law did so on the grounds that criminals are being rewarded, that land robbery is legitimized. What turns out? That for coalitional considerations, for the purpose being in control and sitting comfortably on the chair of the minister, there is no problem in legitimizing criminality. Tens of thousands of homes can be connected to electricity, even if they were built illegally."

MK Bezalel Smotrich added, "This is a plan that encourages chaos, gives a boost to all the construction criminals in the Arab sector who are intentionally building illegally and will continue to build illegally to take over land, and not to pay property taxes. Ayelet Shaked completely surrendered. This is a law of anarchy and criminality and the surrender of Ayelet Shaked and this government to the supporters of anti-Zionist terrorism in the Islamic Movement."