The Ministerial Legislative Committee voted 7-1 on Sunday to extend to Area C, legislation which protects the rights of pregnant and working Israeli and Palestinian mothers.

On the surface of it, the legislation addresses a legal imbalance whereby women working for Israeli owned entities in Area C, such as businesses, nonprofits, schools, and municipal offices, are exempt from the labor law that protects their counterparts employed within the pre-1967 lines.

But all moves to extend Israeli law into Area C have also been part of the defacto battle waged by right wing legislators to annex that portion of the West Bank to Israel – one legislation at a time.

The Ministerial Legislative Committee’s vote comes just two days after US Secretary of State John Kerry announced that a basis had been established to allow for the resumption of direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

The legislation must now pass three readings in the Knesset before it becomes law. Governmental support for the pending law is assumed once it passes the Ministerial Legislative Committee.

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni was not at the meeting.

Seven ministers supported the measure: Limor Livnat and Gideon Sa’ar from the Likud, Uri Ariel and Uri Orbach from Bayit Yehudi and Yitzhak Aharonovitch, Sofa Landver and Yair Shamir from Yisrael Beiteinu.

The only minister to oppose the legislation was Yael German from Yesh Atid.

Her spokeswoman said that the Justice Ministry is working on the issue of social welfare legislation as it applies to Area C. German would prefer that the issue of working mothers be dealt with by that initiative, rather than in a piecemeal fashion, the spokeswoman said.

MK Orit Struck (Bayit Yehudi) first proposed extending the law after she was approached by a woman from Judea and Samaria who – after she was fired – discovered that she lacked the same protective rights afforded other Israeli women.

“Approval of the law is an appropriate and normal step that finally recognizes that human rights in general, and women’s rights in specific, should not stop at the Green Line,” Struck said.

She thanked MK Merav Michaeli (Labor) and MK Penina Tamanu-Shata (Yesh Atid) who have supported extending the legislation to Area C.

Struck is among those parliamentarians that believe Israel should annex Area C. But, she told The Jerusalem Post, laws protecting human rights should be extended irrespective of that battle.

Human rights laws should be extended to Area C in the same way that legislation that obligates Israeli citizens to pay taxes and serve in the army are extended to Judea and Samaria, she said.

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