A bill that would have protected five settlement buildings was voted down in the Knesset today, drawing ire from its supporters.
The bill sought to counteract a high court decision that earlier demanded a bloc of buildings in the Gilvat Ulpana outpost be demolished. Had it gone through, many say it would have been an effective regulating of a settlement under intense contention as to its legality.
The legislation was denied in a 60 to 22 vote, with 29 abstentions. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, typically a defender of settlements, was a staunch opponent of the bill. The PM stated that passing the motion would undermine Israel’s courts and ultimately weaken the bid of those living in Jewish settlements. Instead, he suggested a counter bill that will see the construction of 300 new housing units within the area in question.
“There is no government that supports or will support settlements more than the government that I head,” he said in a press conference. “Had the law passed, it would hurt the settlements [in the long term], whereas my proposed plan will strengthen the settlement movement.”
Members of Netanyahu’s newly formed coalition, particularly on the far right, spoke out against the decision. Prior to the vote, the prime minister reportedly threatened to remove from their positions any members holding ministerial roles and did not vote against the motion. Still, at least three ministers voted in favor, and eight MKs in Netanyahu’s own Likud party also went against their leader.
“It’s a puppet vote,” said MK Tzipi Hotovely, Likud, who voted for the bill. “The Knesset must allow the freedom of voting for ministers.”
MK Zevulun Orlev has threatened along with other politicos to leave the PM’s coalition over the matter, in what might be the first major test Netanyahu’s broad government has faced.