Attempts by “leftist institutions” to smear figures on the right on a personal basis “are a last resort. When they cannot succeed in stopping them from acting in the interests of the right, they go for their head.” That is the tactic the left is using against Jewish Home MK Betzalel Smotrich, in the hope that he will drop his insistence that the recently passed Settlement Arrangements Law be enforced, according to Yerushalayim Deputy Mayor Dov Kalmanovich, chairman of the local branch of Jewish Home Party.
Kalmanovich was commenting in social media to a report in Haaretz that Smotrich, one of the sponsors of the Settlement Arrangements Law, lives in a home that may be built on privately owned Arab land. According to the report, Smotrich’s house in the Shomron town of Kedumim was illegally built, and is not part of the general building plan of the town. As it was built on land that is not classified as state land, the possibility exists that the land it was built on is privately owned land – making his support of the law a clear conflict of interest, as he personally stands to benefit from it.
The Settlements Arrangement Law replaces the process governing Arab claims of ownership of land on which Israeli homes are built. Prior to the law’s passage, such claims were adjudicated by the High Court, but the bill instead institutes a special arbitration process that, among other things, advocates land swaps to replace the land claimed by Palestinians with state land of equal or greater value that is not in dispute. The law is designed to prevent the demolition of homes at outposts and settlements that were built in good faith, but later were discovered to be built on private land – a classification that apparently would apply to Smotrich’s house, according to Haaretz.
In response, Smotrich said that the only conflict of interest was “among the reporters who represent Palestinians and seek to throw Jews out of their homes. Unfortunately, this is a case of self-hate, and no Arrangements Law can help. I will continue to do what I have done in the past – to aid and protect Jewish settlement and continue to aid the realization of our vision.”
If Haaretz reporters wanted to examine conflicts of interest, wrote Kalmanovich, they would do well to start with the homes of some of the High Court judges, located in Yerushalayim neighborhoods like Talbieh and Rehavia, which were abandoned by Arabs when the state was established in 1948. “It certainly is likely that some of those homes were owned by Arabs. Has anyone checked this? It would fit in with the new ‘trend’ of returning property to Arabs. Defaming an MK with charges of conflicts of interest is a well-known leftist tactic,” he added. “I would not be surprised if the next step will be to ask the International Court of Justice to try Smotrich for this ‘war crime.’”