Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit has warned that the bill, should it pass, would be struck down by the High Court of Justice. Mendelblit, who is anything but hostile toward the pioneers of Judea and Samaria, is an expert on international law. When someone like Mendelblit says that the outpost regulation bill is unconstitutional and violates international law, we must take him at his word. The only way this bill can become a reality is if it includes a provision that applies Israeli law to Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria and to Palestinian villages under full Israeli control (villages that make up Area C under the Oslo Accords). The Knesset annexed east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, but it never passed legislation to apply Israeli laws beyond those areas.
Israel must spare no time in engaging the emerging administration and gauge its willingness to accord legitimacy to the settlement enterprise, a legitimacy it rightly deserves. Only then can Israel move to change the reality on the ground by applying Israeli law or by reaching some understanding with the Trump administration.
Israel may not be successful in reaching a new understanding with the U.S. on this issue, but it is must not pass up this historic opportunity to redefine the reality on the ground. Amona is not the only thing that is at stake. The talks with the new administration could determine the fate of construction in large settlement blocs that enjoy widespread consensus, lead to construction in E1 — an area between Jerusalem and Maaleh Adumim that has strategic importance — or possibly lead to the resumption of construction in east Jerusalem. If this engagement is productive, not only will contested neighborhoods in Jerusalem receive legitimacy, perhaps America will let Israel apply its laws on certain areas in Judea and Samaria as well.
It made sense to be at loggerheads with the Obama administration during the past eight years, but Israel would be ill-advised to provoke the outgoing president lest it provides him with the pretext to apply international pressure on the Jewish state. A new understanding over the fate of Judea and Samaria — say, an arrangement that would allow renewed construction in Jerusalem and other major communities — can be struck through official or unofficial channels with the new administration. But such talks can only succeed if Israel lies low. It must not do anything provocative. If it emerges that Trump never meant what he said about the settlement enterprise, we would still be able to stand up to him, perhaps even better than during the Obama administration. [SHRAGAI IS TOO CAUTIOUS]
Yes, the residents of Amona were treated unfairly. But the High Court of Justice, which ruled that they must be evicted by Dec. 25, only interpreted the law. And yes, those who petitioned the court and asked that the outpost be removed had only one goal: to undermine the settlement enterprise. Having said all that, the outpost regulation bill is not the answer to the …read more