West Bank construction 311.
(photo credit: Miri Tzachi)
The Ministerial Committee for Legislation is set on Sunday to debate a bill that would apply Israeli law to West Bank settlements which are now under military rule.
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It would also make it difficult, if not impossible, to impose a freeze on West Bank Jewish construction.
Such a move would automatically strip Defense Minister Ehud Barak of the ability to authorize Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria, as such activity would then be determined by the Ministry of Housing and Construction in a manner no different from what happens with construction projects within the Green Line.
It’s the second assault on Barak that right-wing politicians plan to make on Sunday.
At his party’s ministerial meeting, Likud Minister Yuli Edelstein plans to ask Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to move the issue of West Bank Jewish construction from the Defense Ministry to a special ministerial committee designed specifically to deal with such building.
The bill regarding applying Israeli law to West Bank settlements is not intended to annex those areas of the West Bank, but rather to guarantee its residents full rights under the law, according to Uri Bank, secretary of the National Union faction.
It is sponsored by the National Union and has the support of 27 MKs, including from the Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu parties. It was first raised last year, and then deferred.
An earlier draft of the bill was first filed in the 15th Knesset, and passed its preliminary reading and its first reading.
But then the Knesset was dissolved. In the 16th Knesset, there was not enough support to revive the bill.
The National Union tried again in the 17th Knesset; and although it garnered 51 signatures, including from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who at the time was the opposition leader, it still lacked enough support to pass the bill.
Bank said that his party does not believe it will pass at this time, but they wanted to open the debate. “The government should be using this type of legislation to counter what the Palestinians have been doing for the last couple of months,” said Bank.
Palestinians have been making unilateral moves and Israel should be doing the same thing, particularly with respect to legislation that should have been passed years ago, he said, adding that the bill was originally designed not for diplomatic considerations, but to solve the legal issues of settlers who live under military rule.
Given that Palestinians live under the authority of their government in the West Bank, there is no reason why Jews should not enjoy the same rights, he added.
“The bill does not harm the territorial principles accepted by modern law, which determines that people living in a certain geographical region all be subject to the same justice system.
This is because of the legal change that took place in the region with the foundation of the Palestinian Authority and the subordination of nearly all of the Arab population to a different legal system,” according to the bill’s explanatory notes.
According to its sponsors, the bill intends to remedy an “absurd”
situation whereby settlers have all the obligations of citizenry, like
fees and taxes, but not all of the rights, like the fact that they must
stand trial in a military court.
The committee will also debate a bill submitted by Shas MK Nissim Ze’ev
that would condition settler evacuation, even in the case of a peace
agreement with the Palestinian Authority, on the settlers’ consent.
Ze’ev’s bill also requires the government to make international
recognition of the Jewish people’s right to the State of Israel a
condition of any future peace agreement with the Palestinians.
It requires, in addition, that Israel guarantee the safety and freedom
of those who would be willing to live under Palestinian rule in the case
of such an agreement.