Top opposition Zionist Union lawmaker Tzipi Livni warned Saturday that a bill to legalize Israeli settlements built on private Palestinian land “will lead IDF soldiers” to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
Livni, speaking at a cultural event in Ness Ziona, said the so-called Regulation Bill being promoted by the right-wing was more harmful to the country than any of the Israeli rights groups often demonized by the right.
“The Regulation Bill is causing us more damage than any ‘Breaking the Silence,’ ‘B’Tselem’ or other organizations,” she said.
As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu heads to Washington to meet with US President Donald Trump on February 15, Livni said, “he must decide whether he’s going as [head of the pro-settler Jewish Home party Naftali] Bennett or as someone who is maintaining Israel’s interests.
“Netanyahu already said the bill will lead [Israel] to the UN Security Council and The Hague,” she said. “Passing the bill will lead IDF soldiers to The Hague.”
Referencing Trump’s portrayal of himself as an ultimate deal-maker, Livni expressed her belief that, “Only one deal will keep Israel Jewish and democratic — a separation from the Palestinians.”
Meanwhile, Tzachi Hanegbi, a minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, also expressed his opposition to the legislation, and said he did not believe it would pass the upcoming Knesset votes.
“People on the right did not have the courage to tell the settlers the truth,” Hanegbi said about the bill’s chances of being enacted, Israel Hayom reported. “It is fair to assume that it will not pass.”
Livni’s fellow Zionist Union MK Itzik Shmuli branded the bill “a legal, moral and democratic terror attack.”
“We will do everything to stop it,” he said, according to Israel Hayom. “This is another dangerous step on the way to an attempted annexation of the Palestinian territories and a loss off the nation’s Jewish majority thanks to messianic delusions.”
The Regulation Bill passed its final committee vote on Tuesday, putting the controversial legislation just one step away from becoming law.
The bill was narrowly approved by a vote of seven to six in a joint meeting of the Knesset’s Law Committee and Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.
The bill is scheduled to face its second and third readings — the two final votes required to become law — on Monday.
Condemned by the Obama administration, the European Union, the United Nations and even Israel’s own attorney general, the bill has been hailed by the settlement movement as a turning point. Once passed, supporters say, the era of evacuating illegally built Israeli settlements will be over.
The bill was put on ice late last year as Netanyahu reportedly sought to avoid any additional fights with the Obama administration before its end on January 20. Netanyahu announced the bill’s return on Sunday.
The final draft of the bill outlines the procedures for legalizing unauthorized construction on private Palestinian land and compensating the landowners. It also immediately freezes administrative proceedings in 16 West Bank settlements for a period of 12 months.
The bill stipulates that settlement construction in the West Bank that was carried out in good faith, without knowledge that the land was privately owned, would be recognized by the government, provided the settlers show some kind of state support in establishing themselves at the site. This support could in some cases be as minimal as having access to public infrastructure.
Under the terms of the bill, the government will be able to appropriate land for its own use if the owners are unknown. If the owners are known, they will be eligible for either yearly damages amounting to 125 percent of the value of leasing the land, a larger financial package valued at 20 years’ worth of leasing the plots, or alternate plots.
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has warned that the bill breaches both domestic and international law, and indicated that the High Court was likely to strike it down.
Marissa Newman and Raoul Wootliff contributed to this report.
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