Bill legalizing some West Bank outposts, with eye on Amona, passes preliminary reading


JERUSALEM (JTA) — A controversial bill to legalize some unauthorized West Bank outposts, especially targeting Amona, passed a preliminary reading in the Knesset.

The Israeli parliament voted Wednesday on three different versions of the bill, passing all of them.

The legislation, known as the Regulation Bill, will now go to a Knesset committee for revision. It must pass three readings in the Knesset to become law.

All three versions were sponsored by the Jewish Home party in an effort to save the West Bank outpost of Amona, which Israel’s Supreme Court has determined was built on private Palestinian property and ordered demolished by Dec. 25. Some 40 families live in Amona.

Under the bill, the government would pay the Palestinian landowners large sums of money and give them new property in exchange for their land.

Jewish Home party leader Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked brought the bill forward over the objections of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. They had threatened to foment a government coalition crisis by not voting with the ruling coalition on other votes if the bill did not pass its preliminary reading.

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has said the legislation violates international law and he could not defend it before the Supreme Court.

On Oct. 31, the State Attorney’s Office asked for a delay of seven months from the Dec. 25 deadline to evacuate Amona, saying it could not arrange alternative housing for the residents before the target date. The government indicated at the time of the request that it would go ahead with the demolition of the settlement on time if required. The request was denied.

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