Following hours of overnight deliberations, the Knesset approved early Thursday a bill to regulate the legal status of the Settlement Division as part of the World Zionist Organization.
The bill, submitted by MK Bezalel Smotrich (HaBayit YaYehudi) passed its second and third readings in a 53-48 vote. One Knesset member, Eitan Broshi of the Zionist Camp, abstained.
The bill will enshrine into law the WZO Settlement Division`s role in funding and developing rural Jewish communities in the Golan, Binyamin and Judea Hills, Jordan Valley, Hebron Hills and the Galilee and the Negev, subject, however, to the government`s approval.
The explanatory notes to the proposal read, ”The purpose of the bill is anchored in legalizing the longstanding engagement between the Israeli government and the WZO Settlement Division, which for decades has served as the singular body for settlement development in Israel, and the realization of the Zionist mission of the State of Israel.”
Constitution, Law and Justice Committee chairman MK Nissan Slomiansky (HaBayit HaYehudi) presented the proposal. ”This is something that should have taken place 67 years ago, with the establishment of the State,” he said.
MK Tzipi Livni (Zionist Camp) said, ”This appears to be a technical debate, but we just saw the video showing youngsters repeatedly stabbing the photo of a baby who was murdered – this is the general topic we are discussing today. My Judaism is not the Judaism of those who danced at the wedding with knives. My Judaism is not Judaism of hatred or burning or dancing on the blood of babies.” Livni was referring to a Channel 10 report which showed a video of Jewish extremists dancing at a wedding while cheering the murder of a Palestinian family in Douma and calling for more killings.
”This Settlement Division Law is part of that same group. This proposal is meant to fool the Americans,” she added. ”In essence, the government is transferring to the Settlement Division the powers, but not the obligations. I would have been prepared to accept this law had one sentence been added to it – that everything that applies to the government also applies to the Settlement Division. But of course this was not accepted.”
MK Osama Sa`adi (Joint List) said, ”The freedom of information clause does not include all the activity of the Settlement Division because they want to continue to rob the land of the Palestinian people and continue to build in the settlements. Many segments of the settler population carry out acts of terror. The solution is to dismantle the settlement enterprise, which is a war crime, and establish a Palestinian state.”
MK Elazar Stern (Yesh Atid) said ”perhaps [the law] is meant to deceive the European Union, but it makes room for lying to the state and lying to the court. [Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development] Uri Ariel (HaBayit HaYehudi), you are a dishonest and inciting man, and it cannot be that funds allotted by you will go to incitement and deception.”
MK Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid) said the Settlement Division ”is trying to create a political reality that will come at the expense of the settlement blocs. Ma`ale Adumim, Gush Etzion and Ariel are being held hostage by the illegal outposts. We are protecting the settlement blocs. Earlier we saw footage from the blood wedding. These people are not Jews, and we must fight them just like we fight Hamas and Hezbollah. They did not grow in a void – they have rabbis and an ideology. It is time that we come out against the extremism of the blood wedding, which was born in those same outposts which people are trying to fund through this bill.”