Opposition Boycotts Vote on Electricity Law

YERUSHALAYIM -
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid leans over to listen to Ra’am party leader Mansour Abbas. (Olivier Fitoussi/FLASH90)

Opposition parties in the Knesset said they will boycott a final vote Tuesday night on connecting thousands of illegal homes in Arab town to the electricity grid.

The Ra’am party has been pushing the bill, for which it gained coalition backing.

An estimated 130,000 Arab Israelis live in illegally built homes across the country that cannot be connected to the national grid under existing law. Arab Israelis blame old zoning that classifies open land as “agricultural” rather than residential, thereby blocking connection to the power grid.

Ahead of the plenary debate and vote, the opposition said it will stay away to protest the the bill and the way it has been fast-tracked through a Knesset committee.

The opposition said the move came over the objections of Knesset legal advisers, “to silence the opposition’s criticism… [against a bill] that certifies the theft of state lands through Arab construction of tens of thousands of illegal buildings.”