The Legalization Bill — A Cynical and Unacceptable Political Stunt

7 December 2016
By: Talia Sasson

The legalization bill, enacted on behalf of Amona, is a bill about which not a single good word can be said — whether one is from the right wing or the left wing. It is nothing more than a political stunt, cynically exploiting the public’s lack of understanding — and all to enable the survival of the government.

To make things clear, the following needs to be said: Amona is an illegal settlement outpost, which is located on private Palestinian land. It is impossible to “legalize” such seizure of land, since the area is subject to international law, which forbids seizing private Palestinian land except for military needs — and the High Court of Justice has already ruled that settlement activity is not a military need.

The High Court of Justice, which is familiar with the players and their weakness in upholding its instructions, gave the state two years to dismantle Amona. When an additional request for postponement was refused, the prime minister deliberated what to do. After all, images of a forcible removal of Amona are a danger to his seat, as he views it. And the seat is the main thing. And so the legalization bill arose once again. This bill is as bad as it gets. It determines that private land that was seized, even forcibly taken, by a Jewish settler from a Palestinian Arab — belongs to the Jew from now on. This refers to actions that have been pronounced illegal by the High Court of Justice. Anyone who committed such actions was called a lawbreaker by the court.

This bill is also unacceptable due to the fact that Israel’s Knesset is not empowered to pass laws regarding territory that is outside its sovereign boundaries. After all, Israeli law and Israeli sovereignty do not apply in the West Bank.

There is nothing new in these arguments. The attorney general is familiar with them, and the prime minister has also heard quite a bit about them. The attorney general has already notified the prime minister in advance that he will not be able to defend the bill before the High Court of Justice. This means that the person who is qualified to determine the legal boundaries of the government’s actions, has already disqualified this legislation as patently unconstitutional.

Why, then, has the prime minister hurried to approve the bill in the Knesset? One might think that he would not do such a thing, since the bill is likely to be disqualified by the High Court. Why bring these branches of government into a clash from the outset? The answer to this question depends on the prime minister’s interests. In the short term, meaning the dismantlement of Amona, the prime minister will look as if he has done everything in his power for the settlements, and Amona’s residents will have to lower the flames as they resist eviction. In the long term, the prime minister will come out looking good to his supporters once again—after all, he tried to legalize the theft of lands in the West Bank, and it was the High Court of Justice that got in his way. And after the High Court disqualifies the bill—right wing elements will be able to lash out at the High Court again, accuse it of political bias, and once again win the votes of the populist right wing. And what about the residents of Amona and the many other settlements sitting on private Palestinian land? They will wait for the next gimmick

This article by NIF President Talia Sasson was published in Hebrew in Maariv on December 7, 2016.