Israeli Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz of the Likud Party and Education Minister Naftali Bennett of Habayit Hayehudi called on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to take advantage of a unique opportunity to regulate construction in Judea and Samaria.
Citing what they called “a historic opportunity” to regulate the status of 3,000 families living in settlements without legal status, the two cabinet members said on Tuesday that there was no political impediment to taking action on the matter.
The move by Katz and Bennett follows a meeting of the Knesset Internal Affairs Committee, headed by Likud Party Knesset member Yoav Kish, which criticized the government’s alleged “foot-dragging” on settlement regulation.
In a statement, the Likud-controlled committee said that “the current situation, in which despite the cabinet’s explicit decision to regulate these communities, and due to the unreasonable prolonging of actions to establish an implementation team, the residents continue to be neglected, is unacceptable.”
In May 2017, the cabinet decided to establish a ministerial team to review regulating the legal status of hundreds of housing units in Judea and Samaria. The outposts in question were built over the last 20 years, not far from existing settlements, as well as thousands of structures that while legal at the time they were built have become retroactively problematic as a result of changes to changes to the state’s legal guidelines.
To resolve this issue, and as part of the framework for construction in the era of U.S. President Donald Trump, the cabinet decided to establish a regulation team. Although some time has passed since the decision was made, nothing has changed on the ground.
According to Kish, “We presented the government with an unambiguous demand to end this situation. I ask the government to give us answers in two weeks.”
In its decision, the committee said the current situation was unacceptable, and that “the regulation of the status of communities and neighborhoods established in Judea and Samaria in the past 20 years is a civic duty and national mission of the highest order.”
Katz told Israel Hayom that following Tuesday’s discussion “and after the Zandberg report [that called for the government to regulate settlement construction] was written, we have the legal tools to regulate the settlements. There isn’t any diplomatic difficulty either since the commitment [late Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon made at the time to remove the outposts built after 2001 is not relevant in the current reality. There is a historic opportunity and it must be taken.
Bennett told Israel Hayom, “We have here a unique opportunity to finally regulate the construction of settlements in Judea and Samaria, and I expect the prime minister to take it. The U.S. administration, headed by Trump is the most sympathetic to Israel ever. We also have support in the international arena. Now is the time to act and implement the policy the public elected us for.”
In response, the Prime Minister’s Office said progress has been made in the establishment of a regulation team and that the delays stem from purely bureaucratic reasons.