The Israeli Ministerial Committee on Legislation voted in favor of adopting a bill proposal applying the Knesset (Israeli parliament) laws on Israelis living in Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
The bill sponsored by parliament members Yariv Levin (Likud) and Orit Struk (the Jewish Home) seeks to equalize the Israeli laws in Jewish settlements situated beyond the pre-1967 line, on lands annexed by Israel during the Mideast War of that year.
Nowadays there are 16 existing Israeli laws that apply in the Jewish settlements in the West Bank, legislated by the Knesset including the penalty law, the mandatory military enlistment law as well as several tax laws.
According to the new bill, the laws would be applied through a military decree, marking an implementation of Israeli sovereignty on those territories in the West Bank.
Six ministers voted in favor of the proposal while four voted against it. Justice minister and former chief negotiator with the Palestinians Tzipi Livni (Hatnua) announced she would appeal the decision.
The ministerial committee discusses judiciary and law enforcement issues and is responsible to form the government’s stand regarding law proposals. According to the government’s regulations, if a minister appeals the decision, unless the government decides otherwise, then the committee’s decision is voided and the cabinet is against it.
If the bill will come into effect, the Central Command of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) will have 45 days to issue a decree matching the laws enacted in the West Bank Jewish settlements to that in the pre-1967 Israeli territory.
In the explanation to the proposal, the ministers noted that ” In the West Bank there are 350,000 Israeli citizens who vote for the Knesset but their lives aren’t run by it since the Israeli law doesn’t apply there. This unacceptable reality damages their dignity, hurts their rights, and discriminates against them.”
Left-wing Meretz leader Zehava Galon slammed the bill, calling it “a cancerous combination of annexation and apartheid.” ” Implementing the Israeli law is de-facto annexing the occupied territories, and the fact it only applies to the Jewish settlers living in the West Bank, creates racial discrimination,” Galon said in a statement.
In September, the Israeli government announced its decision to annex nearly 1,000 acres of land in the Gush Ezion settlement bloc in the West Bank. The government also ok’ed thousands of more housing units to be built in the West Bank and east Jerusalem in recent months.
Israel is facing diplomatic backlash over its settlements policy and has suffered a major blow when Sweden recently announced its recognition of a Palestinian state, the first major Western European country to do so.
In addition, there are initiatives to ban West Bank settlements’ products and the European Union issued a resolution in the past year illegalizing cooperation between EU-based companies and organizations and their Israelis counterparts operating in the occupied territories.