Report: Gantz Promised Arabs a Break on Illegal Building for Recommendation

Blue and White leader Benny Gantz at a party meeting on Thursday. (Avshalom Shoshoni/Flash90)

The United Arab List is set to recommend to President Reuven Rivlin that he appoint Benny Gantz to attempt to form a government – and a report on Channel 13 said that the recommendation comes at a price: The cancellation of a law that increases penalties for illegal construction in the Negev and Galilee.

The measure, known as the Kamenitz Law, was passed in 2017 in order to stem the construction of thousands of illegal structures in the Arab sector. The law makes it easier for authorities to demolish illegally built structures, and tightens regulations on building permits. According to the report, Israeli moshav farmers were also interested in repealing the law, and that even Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had told farmers that he would work to cancel the law.

The Regavim organization said that “the Kamenitz Law is one of the most important legislated by the outgoing Knesset. It has cut illegal building in the Galilee by 50%. Canceling the law, which is just beginning to have an effect, will remove from authorities an important tool against illegal building, and will make it more difficult to manage the land resources of Israel. Worst of all, rescinding the law will harm the relationship between Israelis and the rule of law.”

With that, Jamal Zahalka of the Balad party, one of the four factions that make up the UAL, said that his MKs were opposed to recommending Gantz. “We have three reasons for that – one is his rightwing positions, another is his desire to have a unity government with Binyamin Netanyahu, and third is his opposition to canceling the Kamenitz Law.”

In response to the report, Blue and White said that “the decision of the United Arab List to recommend or not recommend Benny Gantz to form a government is base on their desire for a better future for all Israelis. Blue and White did not promise anything for their recommendation.”