A worker’s rights issue took on diplomatic overtones Sunday, when MK Orit Struck
(Bayit Yehudi) proposed a private member’s bill to apply the Women’s Labor Law
to Judea and Samaria.
Struck said that her issue was the lack of legal
protection for women in Judea and Samaria, and not a back-end attempt to annex
the area by slowly applying Israeli law through expanding the scope of each
Still, in the past, left and centrist
parliamentarians have often opposed attempts to apply any legislation to Judea
and Samaria, fearing that it would lead to total annexation.
that the Green Line is a barrier to basic rights that every Israeli citizen
deserves, is immoral and lacks all logic and justice,” Struck said.
13 laws currently apply to Judea and Samaria, while there have been more than
1,700 military orders that, practically, apply laws to the area, since the IDF
is the sovereign in the West Bank.
“I believe that MKs from every faction
will support this bill, which puts women’s rights above diplomatic differences,”
The law, which would be the 14th piece of Knesset
legislation to be applied to the West Bank should it pass, brought Struck
strange bedfellows, such as Labor MK Merav Michaeli, an outspoken opponent of
settlements, but a proponent of feminism.
Michaeli explained that, under
the circumstances, she thought cooperating with Struck on this legislation was
the right thing to do.
“The law applies to Palestinian women as well as
to Israeli women,” Michaeli said. “First and foremost I think every country
should regulate companies owned by its citizens to protect human and workers’
rights wherever it operates.
Both International law and human rights
organizations agree today that rights should be protected as much as possible,
also under occupation, which must come to an end in a peace treaty, the sooner
Despite her many battles for workers’ rights, Labor
chairwoman Shelly Yacimovich chose not to sign the
Yacimovich’s aide Eli Gershonkroin wrote to Struck that, “as
is well-known, Israeli law does not apply to the territories for diplomatic,
political and legal reasons. Applying Israeli law [to the West Bank] creates a
diplomatic and political situation that opposes our world view, and therefore,
we will not sign the bill.”
Yesh Atid’s female MKs also did not sign the
bill. They did not receive authorization to do so from party leader Yair Lapid,
who sent the legislation to the Yesh Atid legal adviser.
Struck was made
aware of the issue of lack of women’s rights after hearing from a Jewish woman
who lived in Samaria, who had been fired during her pregnancy.
petitioned the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry, the pregnant woman was told
that it would not deal with her case because the Women’s Labor Law does not
apply over the Green Line.
According to Struck, who researched the issue,
businesses in Judea and Samaria are not required to give workers pregnancy
leave, or other rights.
As such, the Bayit Yehudi MK proposed a bill
requiring that laws protecting the rights of female workers, whether Palestinian
or Israeli, be imposed on Israeli-owned businesses in Judea and
It remains unclear if the government would support the bill,
once it is formed. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has in the past taken a
strong stand against annexation, as well as attempts to apply Israeli law to
Judea and Samaria.
Still, in the last government, Netanyahu backed an
initiative to allow museums in Judea and Samaria equitable funding status with
their counterparts located within the pre-1967 lines.
contributed to this report.