The Knesset voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday to reject a bill sponsored by National Union chairman Ya’acov Katz that would have extended full Israeli civil authority to the West Bank.
Only the National Union’s four MKs voted in favor of the legislation, and the faction slammed other right-wing factions for failing to support normalizing the status of West Bank communities.
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Katz complained that following the establishment of the Palestinian Authority, Israeli citizens faced discrimination.
They must pay taxes according to Israeli law, but do not enjoy the benefit of full rights because they live under military and not civil rule.
The National Union proposed the bill in an effort to embarrass right-wing Likud ministers and MKs who were forced to vote against it or absent themselves from the vote even though they themselves proposed a similar bill when they were in the opposition.
Kadima MKs provided the National Union with the signatures necessary to put the bill to a vote.
Earlier, rumors had circulated that Israel Beiteinu might vote for the
bill in revenge for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s decision to
allow freedom from coalition discipline during any future vote on
parliamentary committees of inquiry probing left-wing NGOs. Although
Israel Beiteinu did not break with coalition discipline on the vote, key
MKs were absent from the floor as a gesture of support for Katz’s
The three MKs from Habayit Hayehudi, the National Union’s likely faction
partners in the next election, were also missing from the plenum floor
during the vote, as were many Shas members, including Interior Minister
Coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) paired himself off with an
opposition MK so he would not have to vote against the bill. Likud
ministers Gilad Erdan and Limor Livnat criticized Elkin for pairing
himself off while making them come and vote against their conscience.
“The prime minister and his ministers were revealed in all of their
guilt today,” National Union MK Arye Eldad declared following the vote.
“Today, Bibi [Netanyahu] voted together with [UAL-Ta’al chairman Ahmed]
Tibi. The Likud, Israel Beiteinu and Habayit Hayehudi proved today that
their loyalty to the coalition trumps their loyalty to the Land of
Israel,” Eldad said. “Today, Israel got an explicit warning that the
Likud under Netanyahu is no different than the Likud under [former prime
minister Ariel] Sharon, except that today, even rebels can’t be found
in their ranks.”