Government Postpones Regulation Bill Amid Coalition Tensions

YERUSHALAYIM -
View of caravan homes at the Amona outpost in the Binyamin regional council. (Flash90)
View of caravan homes at the Amona outpost in the Binyamin regional council. (Flash90)

The Cabinet decided Wednesday to postpone votes on two controversial government-backed bills, the Regulation Bill and the Muezzin Bill.

The Regulation Bill, which was scheduled to be brought to its first reading later in the day, retroactively legalizes Jewish homes in Yehudah and Shomron that were built on privately owned Palestinian land, including Amona. It is now scheduled to be put to a vote on Monday, while the Muezzin Bill was postponed till next Wednesday. Coalition chairman David Bitan (Likud) will have until that time to muster up the required majority.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced at the start of Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting that due to failure to obtain a majority for both bills, the vote on them would be postponed.

The problem for the Regulation Bill was Finance Minister Moshe Kachlon, who earlier said that if it was brought to a vote, he and his Kulanu party would abstain. Kachlon was convinced last week to support the bill in its preliminary reading.

In addition, other coalition members are abroad and could not vote.

Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett, furious at Kachlon for breaching coalition discipline on the bill, said he considered himself free to abstain in the matter of other coalition bills put to a vote.

More than 200 members of the Jewish Home party’s central committee, including 20 deputy heads of local authorities, called on their party leaders “not to blink” in the struggle to pass the Regulation Law and save the town of Amona from demolition, Arutz Sheva reported.

They submitted a letter to Bennett and other party leaders saying: “We the deputy heads of [Jewish Home’s] main branches and members of the central committee welcome and support your firm stance against the evacuation of Amona and for the enactment of the Regulation Law.

“The belief that it is possible to change the situation, and the courage to take action despite all of the pressure, signal to the Israeli public that something new is happening.

“Everyone understands that Amona is a test case. And everyone knows that the Regulation Law has the power to solve the problem at its root. Therefore, you must not blink.”

Meanwhile, coalition officials warned that the timetable to finding a solution for Amona is narrowing, and there is a possibility there won’t be enough time to implement any of the alternatives by the evacuation deadline later this month.