Rabbis: Facilitate free vote on outpost legislation (JERUSALEM POST) By JEREMY SHARON 05/22/12)
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Four leading rabbis from the national-religious community met on
Monday with Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, calling on him to
facilitate freedom of conscience for government ministers in a
Knesset plenum vote on proposed legislation – which, if passed, would
legalize unauthorized settlement outposts across the West Bank.
Rivlin said in response, however, that the government would not be
able to directly support the bills because of the “complex” nature of
the issue. He nevertheless expressed strong support for a compromise
solution in light of the fact that the residents believed the
neighborhood to be legal when they moved in.
The bills are being brought forward now because of the High Court of
Justice ruling earlier this month ordering the state to demolish 30
homes in the Ulpana neighborhood of the Beit El settlement, which
were constructed without the proper permits on land classified by the
state as private Palestinian property.
The rabbis appealed to Rivlin to press Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu to allow government ministers to vote according to their
conscience, and not subject to coalition discipline – as it is
thought more likely that the bill will pass if the 30 ministers in
the current government were able to vote freely.
“The impression I get from my conversations with the prime minister
is that he understands the need for a creative type of solution in
order to prevent the destruction of the neighborhood,” Rivlin told
the rabbis. “The residents went to live in this place under the
impression that it was legal and within a permitted framework, and
they were sent by the government of Israel.”
He continued: “It’s not possible to rectify an injustice with another
injustice. We need to adjust the law to be just.”
Present at the meeting with Rivlin were Rabbis Haim Druckman, Zalman
Melamed, Tzfania Drori and Haim Steiner, along with Transportation
Minister Yisrael Katz, Regional Development Minister Silvan Shalom,
MK Ya’acov Katz (National Union) – who initiated the meeting – and
several other politicians.
The legislation, proposed by Habayit Hayehudi MK Zevulun Orlev and
the National Union MK, would transform dozens of unauthorized hilltop
communities into new legal settlements under Israeli law.
The rabbis argued that it is unthinkable that “a quarter of the
Knesset cannot vote according to their conscience.”
“What kind of Knesset is it that 30 ministers cannot express their
own opinion?” asked Rabbi Melamed, dean of the Beit El yeshiva. “How
is the requirement to represent the people [being expressed here]?”
The transportation minister said – in light of the High Court’s
ruling that the only way to solve the problem is by passing a new
law – that he too would press Netanyahu to allow government ministers
to vote freely. (© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post 05/22/12)
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