Netanyahu, Knesset Reject Bill to Legalize Settlements
On Wednesday morning, the Knesset voted against a bill that would have legalized settlements in the West Bank, specifically in the Ulpana Hill neighborhood, which was built on land that is privately owned by Palestinians. The bill was rejected in a 69-22 vote a day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for members of the Knesset to oppose the bill. In fact, he even went so far as to threaten that any minister who voted in favor of the bill would be fired.
Netanyahu called on the Knesset to turn its attention to more pertinent issues: "We have major national challenges ahead of us – such as the advancement of a new enlistment law, the approval of the annual budget, and handling the African migrants. Only a united government could manage these challenges."
Netanyahu’s more moderate position on the controversial issue of settlements might indicate that Kadima’s presence in the national unity government is tempering the political landscape. Also of note: Most of the ultra-Orthodox parties that have consistently voted with Netanyahu in the past did not oppose the bill, as Netanyahu demanded.
Netanyahu’s alternate suggestion for the Ulpana Hill neighborhood, which was approved by Israel’s attorney general late Tuesday night, will remove the five houses in Ulpana and relocate them to a military territory in Beit El, where 300 new housing units will be built.
Photo courtesy of Emil Salman/Haaretz