|Israeli flag hangs off pole in Migron 370 R.(Photo by: REUTERS)|
PM blocks bill to annex West Bank settlements
By TOVAH LAZAROFF
MK Miri Regev's bill, which would have effectively annexed large portions of Area C, defeated at the Ministerial Committee.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday morning blocked a bill to fully
extend Israeli law to West Bank settlements, which are now under Israeli
MK Miri Regev (Likud) proposed the bill, which was
defeated by 9 votes at the Ministerial Committee on Legislation.
Tourism Minister Stas Meseznikov (Yisrael Beytenu) voted in favor of the
legislation, which would have effectively annexed portions of Area C in the West
The bill’s fate, however, was sealed even before the vote was cast,
when Netanyahu opposed the matter in the Likud ministerial meeting earlier that day.
am sorry that the government chose not to set clear policy [in Judea and
Samaria] by rejecting the bill,” Regev said.
She added that she had
spoken with Netanyahu last week and told him that with his newly expanded
coalition, now was the moment to pass such a measure.
Committee on Legislation rejected her bill after a confusing meeting, in which
the legislation initially appeared to garner enough support to ensure its
Based on reports from those present at the meeting, two
narratives have emerged as to how events transpired in the 20-member committee
that ultimately led to the bill’s defeat.
In the first version, a
majority of ministers present in the room indicated their support for the
According to a source, a Justice Ministry representative said the
bill was problematic from a diplomatic perspective because its execution meant
an almost complete annexation of Area C in the West Bank.
suggested that the committee was not the proper forum to debate the
Among those who opposed the bill were Likud ministers Bennie
Begin and Dan Meridor.
At a certain point in the debate, the committee
chairman, Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman, suggested a onemonth delay in light of
comments made in the room and the discrepancy between Netanyahu’s wishes and
that of the ministers, sources said.
When it turned out that Regev had
not been briefed about the possibility of a delay, the meeting was adjourned so
that she could be updated.
According to sources, Begin was asked to go
out to speak to her but refused, stating, “It was easier to deal with Migron
than to speak with Miri Regev.”
A representative on behalf of Neeman and
Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein (Likud) finally
spoke with her.
Regev asked if the delay would increase the chances of
the bill’s passage.
Edelstein responded that he did not think so – at
which point Regev rejected the request.
She later explained to The
Jerusalem Post that after speaking with Edelstein, she believed that the bill
would have been rejected in the end.
Once a bill is rejected it can only
be returned to the committee in a half-year. Regev said that the suggested delay
would have meant waiting seven months rather than six to return the bill to the
Ministers, however, saw her refusal as a sign that she was not
serious, and those who had initially indicated their support changed their
minds, according to sources at the meeting. When the meeting was reconvened they
voted to reject the bill.
In a second and simpler version of events,
after a discussion of the bill, Neeman proposed a month’s
Ministers who had planned to vote against the bill after
understanding that Netanyahu opposed it, then indicated their approval of a
delay – which they believed had Netanyahu’s backing. Representatives from the
meeting were sent to see if Regev supported the suggestion to delay the
Edelstein said he told her he believed the committee would
ultimately reject the bill, and that this would likely be true even with a
Once ministers understood the suggestion for a delay came from
Neeman, not Netanyahu, they rejected both the request for the delay and the
A number of ministers, such as Edelstein and Science and Technology
Minister Daniel Herschkowitz (Habayit Hayehudi), abstained.
later told the Post that he supported the bill in principle but took the middle
road when he saw it lacked support.
“We will just have to look for better
circumstances and better times,” he said.
Regev told the Post that her
bill had been misunderstood.
Its aim, she said, was not to annex Judea
and Samaria, but rather to ensure that the settlements there received the same
legal treatment as any other Israeli community.
This is particularly
important for the issue of settlement construction, which would then be moved
from the Defense Ministry to normative planning committees.
among the Likud ministers said that the party’s leadership opposes the bill,
which would have effectively annexed the settlements.
The Likud party has
historically opposed extending Israeli law to the West Bank, the source
The source noted that former Likud prime ministers such as Menachem
Begin, Yitzhak Shamir and Ariel Sharon had opposed the annexation of Judea and
On Sunday evening, Regev posted a note on her Facebook page
which said that the Likud party’s regulations state it is obligated to preserve
Jewish rights to the land and apply Israeli sovereignty on it.