Minister vows ‘new settlements’ & ‘Israeli sovereignty all over West Bank’ after Amona eviction
“From its wreckage we will erect kindergartens all over Judea and Samaria. From the legal defeat we will establish a new legal regime that will regulate all of the settlements, and from this loss we will start applying the sovereignty of the State of Israel all over Judea and Samaria,” said Bennett, whose party makes up the government coalition, while he holds two portfolios – as minister of education and minister of diaspora affairs.
“The ‘settlement bill’ that will be passed next week will end the legal displacement system,” continued Bennett, referring to the controversial legislation, which is currently being debated by the Knesset, prior to a second and third reading vote on Monday.
The bill will retroactively legalize 4,000 Israeli settler homes built on Palestinian-owned land, similar in status to Amona, prior to its residents’ eviction. Under the proposed legislation, whose application could still be thwarted by the Supreme Court, Palestinians will be paid a market rate for their land, but will not be able to on-sell it, and displace the unauthorized settlements.
The mooted law has met fierce resistance from opposition parties, Palestinian politicians, and even Israel’s allies, who say that it will set off another spiral of tension in the restive region. EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini warned that new Jewish settlements would risk making a two-state solution "impossible."
Bennett’s party colleague Bezalel Smotrich compared Wednesday’s IDF-supervised eviction of Amona – which was founded in 1995, and ruled illegal in 2006, prior to a lengthy legal battle – to a “brutal rape.”
“When someone rapes a woman it hurts. What they're doing here now is a brutal rape. They're going to remove innocent people from their home,” the Knesset member, who personally witnessed the evacuation of about 250 Israelis, told local news portal Ynet.
The remark brought an immediate backlash from the center-left opposition Zionist Union party, who said it represented a “loss of moral judgment.”
“Rape is against the rules of morality and law and cannot be compared to the evacuation of Amona which is the enforcing of the law according to the High Court's ruling,” MK Ayelet Nachmias Verbin said.
Nonetheless, politicians from all sides of the political spectrum sympathized with the fate of the settlers, most of whom gathered to protest the eviction, alongside supporters from other parts of Israel and the West Bank. While parliamentarians encouraged both sides to show “tolerance,” 16 police officers and two protesters have been injured so far.
Despite the mournful mood in the Knesset, Tzipi Livni, the joint leader of Zionist Union, reminded fellow parliamentarians that the destruction of Amona is not a defeat for Israel, but proof of the robustness of its legal system.
“A day in which the sovereign state of Israel enforces the law will never be – despite claims to the contrary – a black day for Zionism. And more importantly, this should not turn into a difficult and black day for Israeli police and Israel Defense Forces soldiers,” said Livni.