Netanyahu Still Opposing Outpost Law

January 9, 2012  

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Monday reiterated his opposition to the so-called Outpost Law aimed at normalizing the status of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

The bill, proposed by Welfare and Social Services Minister Zevulun Orlev, would forbid demolitions and evictions in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria that have stood for four years and have at least 20 families.

Under the proposed law courts would be directed, if plaintiffs can prove their claims to disputed land with normal proof (i.e., deeds), to order monetary compensation or alternative grants of land.

Netanyahu previously ordered the Outpost Law killed in committee, but it has recently made a comeback among legislators seeking a solution for several threatened Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

At the Likud faction meeting on Monday MKs Miri Regev, Tzipi Hotovely and Danny Danon insisted Netanyahu clarify his position, prompting him to answer, “I’m against a legislative solution – it interferes with reaching an agreement.”

Instead, Netanyahu said he wants a “solution like that which favorably resolved the problem [at Ramat Gilad]. I want to avoid the settlers turning Migron into a symbol that has legal problems.”

“From personal experience,” Netanyahu added, “When negotiations become a matter of principle it is impossible to reach a solution – a transfer of a few meters can solve the problems.”

Netanyahu was referring to a recent deal brokered by Minister-without-portfolio Benny Begin that moved the community of Ramat Gilad several dozen meters in exchange for government recognition as a new neighborhood of Karnei Shomron.

Critics, however, say the Ramat Gilad deal does nothing to address the underlying legal situation that has led to uprooting Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria and does not provide a solution for other communities facing destruction.

MK Hotovely told the Prime Minister “Begin’s deal was a worthy one, but Migron isn’t getting a deal.”

Netanyahu remains opposed to the bill despite a recent poll showing that Likud voters overwhelmingly back the proposal – with a significant minority saying they will consider switching their allegiance if his faction refuses to move to make it law.

The ruling Likud party found itself in an ideological crisis after a Supreme Court ruling that declared all disputed non-State-owned land in Judea and Samaria was presumptively ‘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.

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, making his opposition to the law all the more perplexing.

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.

A group of Yesha (Judea and Samaria) mayors who attended the meeting Monday with faction heads said “not promoting the Outpost Law may drag us into a very serious crisis between the national government and the settlements in Judea and Samaria, and God forbid, even cause a schism and catastrophe of unimaginable dimensions.”

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