- The Jenga tower that is coalition politics began to sway as the drunk party guest that is Naftali Bennett began to pull at the unstable block that is the status of the West Bank. Let’s take a look at the status of Amona and the associated “Arrangement Law” that provided the first real coalition drama of the session.
- Amona was founded in 1995 and currently holds all of 50 families. In 2000, a court paused the building of permanent houses in the town while it deliberated on whether the houses were built on private Palestinian land. The Jews living in Amona claim that the owners sold them the land, but did not officially register the sale for fear of reprisals. Symbolic of all building processes in Israel, deliberations continued until July 2005 when the state prosecution declared that the houses were to be destroyed. On February 1 2006, (after some more legal back and forth) about 6,000 soldiers and policemen came to the town to destroy the buildings while about 3,000 activists opposed them. 200 people were injured in clashes between the two groups. After the events, an investigative committee was established to explore police actions, 80,000 people participated in a protest in Jerusalem and metal band Salem released a terrible song. In 2014, the Supreme Court ruled that the entire town should be destroyed. The deadline to clear the town is December 25 2016.
- When HaBayit HaYehudi joined the collation they did so on condition that an “Arrangement Committee” would be established to help legalize a number of towns in Judea and Samaria with a focus on Amona. The committee produced the “Arrangement Law” that addresses situations when government-encouraged settlement has occurred on privately owned land. The original Palestinian owners will either receive new land from the government closer to their home or money in exchange for giving up their claim to the land. The government could do so without the approval of the original owners. The new law would allow Amona to stand. If this sounds kinda like applying Israeli law and control over the West Bank, that’s because it is. I wonder just what the Supreme Court thinks about this?
- As with many things supported by HaBayit HaYehudi, the Supreme Court probably does not look fondly on this law and the legal advisor to the Government said that he would have trouble defending it in court. Despite this, the Ministerial Committee for Legislation passed the bill on Sunday and on Monday it passed in a preliminary reading because screw it all. Just so we’re clear, according to almost everyone, (including HaBayit HaYehudi!), the law will not pass the Supreme Court’s examinations.
- David Bitan, the Likudnik Coalition whip, announced that he intends to solve the issue of Amona without a new law. The Likud is pissed at Bennett and claimed that he originally didn’t support the law and has said behind closed doors that it will never pass. The Likud feels that Bennett is outflanking them on the right with irresponsible legislation giving false hope to the residents of Amona. While it may be tempting to be sympathetic to the Likud here, remember that they stole a chunk of HaBayit HaYehudi’s votes by claiming that Ahmed Tibi was storming the Knesset gates with the Arab hordes and only Bibi Crockett could hold them back.
- Yisrael Beitenu head Avigdor Liberman criticized Bennett’s actions saying that he represents the populistic right as opposed to Liberman’s pragmatic and far hairier right. Liberman also said that he is willing to freeze most settlement building as part of an understanding with the United States.
- Moshe Kahlon heroically demanded that he would only vote for the bill if Bitan announced that it won’t hurt the standing of the court. Moshe Kahlon! Making a difference however infinitesimally small and insignificant.
- For his part, Bennett flashed his million tooth smile throughout the lead up to the vote. It was the smile of the man who had beat his former boss and then got to sit two seats down from him as the votes were tallied. He came off as the biggest proponent of settling the West Bank and may have won some seats back from the Likud.
- And I didn’t even get to the submarine scandal or the virus comment or some more fallout from the Muezzin bill.
That’s a lot of coalition dysfunction, but can the opposition capitalize? Likud and HaBayit HaYehudi are jousting for the votes of settlers, while Liberman is actually sounding closer to Rabin in his attempt to gain a Jewish State with as large a Jew to non-Jew ratio as possible. Meanwhile Kahlon continues to be there. As of now, this issue should be settled, possibly by letting it get to the Supreme Court and letting them knock it down. We will see if coalition members withhold budget votes over the matter though.
Let us know what you think below!
Totally precise and not arbitrary election date: February 8, 2018 (starting to waver on this one)
Runner Up: Yesh Atid