Finance minister threatens to halt outpost-saving bill
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Finance minister threatens to halt outpost-saving bill

Moshe Kahlon says his party will not back legislation if it is damaging to the High Court; Jewish Home warns of repurcussions

Finance Minister and leader of the Kulanu party Moshe Kahlon leads a faction meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, November 7, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Finance Minister and leader of the Kulanu party Moshe Kahlon leads a faction meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, November 7, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon on Tuesday said his party would not back a controversial bill that seeks to legitimize illegal West Bank outposts if the legislation is seen to undermine the Supreme Court’s authority.

The warning came as the national-religious Jewish Home party planned to present the so-called Regulation Bill to the Knesset for a first reading on Wednesday in an effort to save the Amona outpost, which faces a court-ordered demolition by December 25.

Speaking at a press conference in the southern city of Eilat, Kahlon, who also leads the Kulanu party, said “if it turns out that it will be damaging to the High Court we won’t support it. The law will never happen.”

Without the 10 seats that Kulanu holds in the Knesset, the bill could struggle to find a majority in the plenum, coalition sources told the media Tuesday night.

Before making a final decision, Kahlon was set to confer in the evening with Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, who has already weighed in, calling the bill indefensible.

Israeli children play outside their home in the wildcat Amona settlement, West Bank, on September 7, 2016.(AFP PHOTO / MENAHEM KAHANA)
Israeli children play outside their home in the wildcat Amona settlement, West Bank, on September 7, 2016.(AFP PHOTO / MENAHEM KAHANA)

In response to Kahlon’s comments, the Jewish Home party threatened to block legislation that Kahlon supports, such as levying new taxes on owners of three apartments, or the budget, Walla news reported.

Jewish Home party chair MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli said “the Jewish Home could also not keep to its coalition agreements and not vote for the budget.”

“The parties in the coalition have a commitment to vote for the Regulation Bill, like other matters, and it is a shame to be drawn into needless battles,” she added.

The High Court of Justice on Monday rejected a request by the government to postpone Amona’s demolition and evacuation. Some coalition lawmakers, in an effort to prevent the evacuation, have been advancing the bill that would recognize certain illegal building in the West Bank even if it is on private Palestinian land.

Kulanu party sources indicated that while publicly saying it would vote for the bill, the Likud party — including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — would prefer to see the legislation stopped and is pressuring Kulanu to halt it, the report said.

The Amona outpost, founded in 1995, is home to about 40 families. It is the largest of about 100 unauthorized outposts — built without permission but generally tolerated by the government — that dot the West Bank. A partial evacuation a decade ago sparked violent clashes between residents and security forces and it is feared a new evacuation could trigger another showdown.

AP contributed to this report.

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