JERUSALEM, Israel -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has promised to build 10 homes for every one the government demolishes, but community leaders in Judea and Samaria say even though it sounds like a good deal, it sets a dangerous precedent.
"Precedent is a great part of our opposition," David Ha'ivri, executive director of the Shomron (Samaria) Liaison Office, told CBN News. "If this is allowed to happen here, it could happen again on a larger scale."
"If we bargain here, we could be in a position in the future that the government says, 'You were willing to make these deals in the past so let's do it again,'" he said. "'Let's move the whole town.'"
On Wednesday, the Knesset overwhelmingly rejected a bill that would have regulated the time allotted to anyone alleging ownership of land in Jewish communities in these areas.
That would mean no one could claim land in a settlement if buildings had been there four years or more. That's been the case in the Ulpana neighborhood of Beit El, where Palestinian Arabs from a nearby village say they own the land where apartment buildings have been for more than five years.
Dubbed the "regulation bill," it would have effectively prevented the demolition set for July 1 of five buildings housing 30 families in the Samarian community.
Netanyahu threatened to dismiss ministers who voted for the bill. In the end, several who supported the legislation decided to absent themselves from the vote, opting to remain in the government to continue influencing decisions from within.
The regulatory issue turned political when the ultra-left-wing Peace Now group submitted a petition to the High Court claiming the homes were built on land owned by an Arab.
Palestinians want all Jewish Israelis out of Judea and Samaria where they would like to establish their own state.
The court ruled in favor of the petition though it was submitted more than five years after the homes were built within the community.
Ha'ivri said the legislation defeated in Wednesday's vote is part of an ongoing effort to straighten out a situation that developed, particularly in Judea and Samaria, regarding the government's policy toward Jewish communities there.
"This government in many ways is very supportive, but there are also elements in the same government that are non-supportive," he said.
On Tuesday evening, Netanyahu announced the formation of a ministerial committee authorized to approve construction in Judea and Samaria without bringing it before the full cabinet, a move seen by some to mollify anger over the court-ordered demolitions.