Aerial view of Ariel settlement in West Bank 370.
(photo credit:Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
The government is looking into upgrading through military orders all personal
laws for Israelis living in Area C, starting with the workplace, to ensure that
they match those legislated by the Knesset for citizens in the rest of the
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu asked the Justice Ministry to
start the task, at the end of a discussion on the labor law for working mothers
in Judea and Samaria, held Sunday at the government’s weekly meeting, an
The issue of legal rights for working mothers in Area C
must be addressed at the government’s October 13 meeting, Netanyahu insisted on
Sunday at the end of the debate.
He asked that Attorney-General Yehuda
Weinstein present the government on the 13th with military legislation to that
If that timetable is not met or the military legislation does not
sufficiently address that issue, Netanyahu said he would support a Knesset bill
to impose Israeli law protecting the work rights of pregnant Israeli and
Palestinian women in Area C.
“Israeli women citizens, including those who
live in Judea and Samaria, must receive equal rights. I am committed to this,”
According to the Prime Minister’s Office, the cabinet
also decided to evaluate gaps in legislation vis-à-vis labor laws in order to
prevent discrimination against Israelis who live in Judea and Samaria, an area
of the West Bank that is under Israeli military and civil control.
government set a four-month timetable on Sunday for this to occur. These laws
are also likely to improve rights for Palestinian workers in Israeli companies
in the West Bank.
But no similar timetable was set for overhauling
military legislation of personal rights for settlers. This legislation would
likely not be broadly applicable to Palestinians.
Full Israeli law does
not apply to Area C of the West Bank. This means that Israelis living there do
not receive all the legal rights afforded those who live in the rest of the
The military laws designed to give them those rights often fall
behind updated legislation in the Knesset.
The matter is complicated
because attempts to impose Knesset legislation on Area C are often seen as a de
facto attempt to annex the area to Israel, one legislation at a time.
issue was first highlighted last year by MK Orit Struck (Bayit Yehudi) after a
pregnant woman who lived in Judea and Samaria complained to Struck she was fired
because protective legislation did not apply to Area C of the West
Netanyahu had initially favored extending the labor law with those
protective rights to Area C. Based on his support, the legislative committee a
few months ago approved a bill on that issue authored by Struck.
after the vote, Science, Technology and Space Minister Yaakov Peri appealed the
decision, which he said was tantamount to “creeping annexation.” He argued that
the issue could be dealt with through military legislation.
Weinstein wrote a legal opinion in support of Peri’s stance
were of a “territorial nature,” and imposing them on Area C of the West Bank
would have implications for Israel in the international legal arena, Weinstein
said. In the past, labor issues, such as minimum wage, had been dealt with
through military legislation, he wrote.
Weinstein differentiated between
territorial laws and personal ones with regard to crime, taxation, IDF service
and voting, which do apply to Israelis living in Judea and Samaria.
nod to Weinstein, Netanyahu agreed to give the IDF time to rectify the
situation, before asking the Knesset to extend the law. In the interim, he
promised that women would be protected until the issue was
Struck said she welcomed Netanyahu’s commitment to women’s
labor rights, but that she was sorry he had listened to Weinstein’s opinion
about the military order.
“It’s an advancement, but not enough,” she
said, adding that Netanyahu should have discarded Weinstein’s opinion, because
labor laws were of a personal and not territorial nature.
administration, Struck said, has been working on military legislation to protect
working women for the last six years without any results.
But Peri told
the cabinet that imposing this labor law for working mothers on Judea and
Samaria – whether personal or territorial – would harm Israel’s international
standing and the renewed negotiations with the Palestinians because it would be
viewed as step toward annexation of the area.
Construction and Housing
Minister Uri Ariel (Bayit Yehudi) argued that the issue was much broader than
just the rights of working mothers or labor laws in general. There are many
personal laws that were not properly legislated in Judea and Samaria, and as a
result its residents do not benefit from full rights.
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