Today the Knesset gave preliminary approval to legislation that will strip Palestinian land owners of property rights, will encourage West Bank settlers to engage in more land grabs, and sets the terrible – and anti-democratic – precedent in which the Knesset engages in legislation that infringes on the rights of Palestinians who cannot vote in elections for the Knesset.
The bill, mistakenly called the “Arrangements Law,” will allow for the legalization of settlement outposts that encroach on the private property rights of Palestinians. Previous iterations included clauses which retroactively legalized the outpost of Amona, effectively canceling a High Court decision to require the government to act on its previous commitment to evacuate the outpost. Yesterday, the government decided to leave these clauses out of the bill.
Today’s vote was a key legislative hurdle. It will need to be approved in more Knesset votes before it becomes law. The next vote is expected on Wednesday.
Talia Sasson, NIF board chair and author of the Sasson Report, said:
“During Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s term in office — when at his request I prepared the Sasson Report — no one questioned the need to enforce the law in the West Bank. Now when confronted with lawbreaking, rather than enforce the law, the government changes the law itself.
“The very act of legislating this law tarnishes Israel and poses the threat of international prosecution to those who act as its agents.”
Daniel Sokatch, New Israel Fund’s Chief Executive Officer, said:
“For years, many people have noted that Israel is on a slippery slope in which democratic values are under siege while the occupation is being entrenched. Passage of this bill is a clear sign that Israel is in fact falling down the slope.
“This bill is about stripping Palestinian land owners of their land so that Israeli settlements can be built in the West Bank. But it is also a dangerous step towards ending Israel’s status as a democracy and erasing the divide between Israel proper and the occupied territories. Never before has the Knesset, which is elected only by Israelis, passed legislation curtailing the rights of Palestinians living under occupation and who cannot partake in Israeli elections. For nearly 50 years the Knesset has understood that this type of legislation is not appropriate for a democracy.
“All of us who love Israel are deeply concerned by these developments.”