Ministers voted down a bill to annex Israeli settlements in the West Bank on Sunday.
Only Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel and Senior Citizens Minister Uri Orbach, both of Bayit Yehudi, voted in favor of the legislation proposed by Knesset Interior Committee chairwoman Miri Regev (Likud Beytenu) in the Ministerial Committee for Legislation meeting.
Regev’s draft bill would have applied Israeli law to Israeli settlements in the West Bank as well as the roads leading to them, which would effectively mean they were being annexed.
“It’s too bad that only Bayit Yehudi ministers supported a bill that is part of the Likud’s constitution,” Regev said following the vote. “It’s also unfortunate that Likud ministers are letting other parties make decisions for us.”
Regev added that she is disappointed and plans to continue to fight “for unity of the land and the nation.”
The Likud Beytenu MK submitted a plethora of controversial legislation in recent months, attempting pass a bill to annex the Jordan Valley and another to block the government from negotiating the status of east Jerusalem and Palestinian refugees. The first was approved by the ministerial committee but appealed by Yesh Atid and Hatnua ministers, while the second was rejected.
Also Sunday, the Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved a bill by MK Shimon Ohayon (Likud Beytenu) to add “strengthening the value of the State of Israel as the state of the Jewish nation” to the goals of government-funded education.
“The time has come to say clearly and educate this and the coming generations that the State of Israel is the country of the Jewish people, about which we dreamed for 2,000 years. We had the privilege to see that dream come true and it belongs to the Jewish people only,” Ohayon said.
He added that “all citizens get full rights, but the country is the state of the Jewish people.”
Ministers in the committee expressed concern about the added weight the bill gives to Israel’s Jewishness, since one of the goals already listed in the Education Law is to teach that Israel is a Jewish and democratic state.
The committee approved the legislation for a preliminary reading, but not for more than that, until Prof. Ruth Gavison finishes preparing her paper for Justice Minister Tzipi Livni on the balance between Jewish and democratic.
The Abraham Fund called for any changes to the goals of the education system to be made through discourse with different parts of society.
“The bill’s proposers say that there is an attempt to harm the connection between the Jewish people and the land… but recent public opinion polls show the exact opposite. Young people’s opinions of Arab citizens is deteriorating and becoming more extreme. We must strengthen education for democracy,” The Abraham Fund said.