High Court Ruling Roils Coalition

YERUSHALAYIM -
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The High Court decision to declare unconstitutional a law retroactively legalizing disputed lands in Yehuda and Shomron has abruptly compounded the challenges to the new coalition government already posed by proposed annexations in the region.

The ruling handed down on Tuesday could prove to be a highly divisive issue within the coalition, as Likud and Blue and White MKs will likely line up on opposite sides, according to the Kan broadcaster.

Prime Minister Binymin Netanyahu’s Likud party said it was “unfortunate” that the court had intervened on “an important law for settlement activity and its future” and that it would work to re-enact it.

“We won’t give way, even at the price of a [coalition] crisis, Blue and White will need to agree to legislate a new Regulation Law,” a Likud source was quoted saying, referring to the law that the court struck down.

The Blue and White Party released a statement supportive of the court’s decision.

“The formulation of the Regulation Law was in opposition to the standing of Israeli law and its legal problems were known back when it was passed in the Knesset.”

“We respect the High Court’s ruling and (will) ensure it is implemented,” Blue and White said.

However, it was also suggested that the court ruling could be rendered irrelevant by annexation. A source “close to Netanyahu,” was quoted saying that annexation of parts of Yehuda and Shomron will “solve most of the issues” of the Regulation Law, Ynet reports, though the source did not explain how that would happen, how Israeli sovereignty would affect Palestinian property rights upheld by the court.

Yamina MK Betzalel Smotrich disputed that.

“There is no connection between sovereignty and the Regulation Law,” Smotrich tweeted. “This is just spin that comes from a lack of understanding. Even when sovereignty is extended, the problem of land ownership that has been created over the years and was resolved by the Regulation Law will need to be readdressed.”

Blue and White leader Benny Gantz said earlier on Tuesday that he and Netanyahu are working together on the annexation issue. But it was unclear how Netanyahu’s promise to advance annexation unilaterally on July 1, and Gantz’s insistence that Jordan and Egypt, who are strongly opposed, have to be consulted first, could be reconciled.