The Knesset voted Wednesday morning to give final approval to a controversial coalition bill which would provide electricity, water, and other infrastructure hookups to thousands of illegally built homes.
Dubbed the ‘Electricity Bill’, the law was drafted by United Arab List MK Waleed Taha, and is aimed at providing de facto legalization for thousands of illegal buildings in the Arab sector in the Negev and Galilee.
Opposition lawmakers blasted the government for enabling the bill to pass, with MKs jeering Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on the Knesset floor.
“Shame on you, shame on you,” Opposition MKs shouted at Yamina and New Hope faction members. “You sold out the Land of Israel.”
Bennett responded to the jeers, shouting back at Opposition Leader MK Benjamin Netanyahu.
“You are responsible for the [2005 Gaza] Disengagement, for 12 years you dismantled the ‘fledgling settlements’.”
The bill was approved in its final vote by a margin of 61 - 0, with Opposition MKs storming out of the plenum in protest.
During discussion on the bill prior to the vote Wednesday, MK Taha defended the proposal, saying it would correct alleged discrimination against Arab Israelis in the approval process.
Addressing the Knesset in Arabic, Taha said: “Why don’t Arab citizens go to the planning committee to get building permits? Because they won’t be approved.”
“’You didn’t make plans, you didn’t make precise plans’, they say. You created society that doesn’t have sufficient income; you didn’t establish industrial zones or employment opportunities. Now, we're trying to do this any way we can.”
“There are houses which, because of the policies of previous governments, aren’t connected to the electrical network. Those responsible for keeping hundreds of thousands of Arab citizens from being able establish homes needs to come to a reckoning with that.”
Gush Etzion Regional Council Head Shlomo Ne’eman slammed the passage of the bill, calling it an 'anti-Zionist law'.
“This is a terrible day, in which a horrible anti-Zionist law was passed, giving preference to Bedouin law-breakers who try to undermine the Jewish State, at the expense of young Jewish pioneers who are heroically fighting the State’s battle over the protection of its lands.
It’s an upside down world. It’s an upside world where lawbreakers are given rights; an upside world where people do what they want where they want, and Bedouins are given preference over residents of Judea and Samaria; an upside world where those who plunder our national lands are given recognition.”
Ne’eman added: “I call upon our Zionist friends in the Knesset to come to their senses and correct this injustice by instead supporting the true pioneers who are working on behalf of the State, and for the benefit of the State.”