As out­post le­gal­i­sa­tion bill passes, Bibi looks vul­ner­a­ble

The Jewish Chronicle - - WORLD NEWS - BY ANSHEL PF­EF­FER

BEN­JAMIN NE­TANYAHU did not have to try hard to con­ceal how he re­ally felt about the “reg­u­lar­i­sa­tion bill” his coali­tion was about to pass in the Knes­set.

If he had wanted to be as­so­ci­ated with the con­tro­ver­sial piece of leg­is­la­tion, he would have made sure that the vote on Mon­day night was held up, by fil­i­buster if nec­es­sary, un­til he re­turned to the coun­try so he could take part in it him­self.

In­stead, he was con­tent for it to take place while he was en route from Lon­don.

They did not need his vote any­way. The bill passed its fi­nal read­ing 60-52.

The law is just an­other re­minder of how Mr Ne­tanyahu’s po­lit­i­cal fate is in the hands of oth­ers — par­tic­u­larly the most right-wing el­e­ments of his own coali­tion.

As one se­nior Is­raeli of­fi­cial put it af­ter the vote went through, “they am­bushed Bibi when he was in Lon­don”.

Some Is­raelis, in­clud­ing op­po­si­tion leader Isaac Her­zog, have warned that the law, ef­fec­tively le­gal­is­ing the ex­pro­pri­a­tion of pri­vately-owned Pales­tinian land, could open Is­raelis up to prose­cu­tion by the In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court.

At present, how­ever, such a prospect is re­mote. Such a prose­cu­tion would be un­likely while the ICC is hav­ing trou­ble bring­ing those ac­cused of mass-mur­der to jus­tice.

As it is, there is a good chance the Is­raeli High Court will strike it down. But it comes at a very bad time for Mr Ne­tanyahu. Just as he is globe-trot­ting — this week Bri­tain, next week the US and the fol­low­ing week to Aus­tralia and Sin­ga­pore — his coali­tion part­ners, in par­tic­u­lar his for­mer aides, Jewish Home min­is­ters Naf­tali Ben­nett and Ayelet Shaked, re­minded him how vul­ner­a­ble he is do­mes­ti­cally.

Not only does Jewish Home hold the keys to his coali­tion with its eight MKs, they are also rid­ing high in the polls and could ben­e­fit from an elec­tion should Mr Ne­tanyahu be in­dicted over any of the cor­rup­tion al­le­ga­tions cur­rently be­ing in­ves­ti­gated by po­lice.

Mean­while, the “reg­u­lar­i­sa­tion bill” is just the first item on Jewish Home’s shop­ping list. The next thing is a law be­ing pre­pared for the an­nex­a­tion of Ma’ale Adu­mim, the large set­tle­ment to the east of Jerusalem.

The right-wing claims that with Don­ald Trump in the White House, Is­rael can go a head and pur­sue a pros­et­tle­ment pol­icy with­out in­cur­ring the wrath of its Amer­i­can ally. They may be right on this.

This would have sounded out­landish just a few weeks ago, but Mr Ne­tanyahu may be start­ing to miss Barack Obama.

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