The West Bank Jewish settlement of Ofra is photographed as seen from the former Jewish settler outpost of Amona..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Knesset’s influential Land of Israel Caucus plans to propose a bill to apply Israeli law to Area C of the West Bank, following this week’s Likud central committee decision to that effect, the caucus’s co-chairman said on Thursday.
Bayit Yehudi MK Bezalel Smotrich pulled his bill to annex Ma’aleh Adumim, which he had proposed in conjunction with his Land of Israel Caucus co-chairman Yoav Kisch of the Likud, at the request of the Likud’s settler pressure group, the Likud Nationalist Camp.
The proposal was set to go to a Ministerial Committee for Legislation vote on Sunday.
Instead, Smotrich tweeted, he plans “to submit in the coming days, with God’s help, a new, broader proposal that will match the Likud central committee decision to apply sovereignty on all settlements.”
Smotrich’s office said the bill has not yet been drafted, but that he is working in full cooperation with Kisch, and denied that Smotrich is trying to circumvent or pressure the Likud.
Laws passed by the Knesset do not automatically extend to the West Bank and usually require a military order for them to apply because the IDF governs the area. The Likud central committee called for Israeli law to apply to Area C, the part of Judea and Samaria that Israel fully controls.
The Left says applying Israeli law to settlements is annexation, while the Right argues it would be reverse discrimination against Israelis living over the Green Line, and that people cannot annex their own homeland.
Likud Nationalist Camp co-chairman Natan Engelsman said he asked Smotrich to remove his bill from the agenda, but that he plans to ask someone in the Likud to draft a bill reflecting the Likud central committee decision.
Engelsman said he thinks the idea of annexing Ma’aleh Adumim first, as opposed to the entire area of the West Bank that is under Israeli control, is a bad one.
“I believe the public understands that the half-a-million Israelis living in Judea and Samaria deserve sovereignty and rights,” Engelsman said. “They deserve equal rights, not just responsibilities. They pay taxes and serve in the army, they have all the obligations [of Israeli citizens], and they deserve the rights, too.”
Pointing to the Likud central committee’s approval of his call for the application of Israeli sovereignty to settlements, Engelsman said: “The Likud understood it and voted unanimously for it, and most members of the Likud faction, the ministers and MKs, supported it.”
He added that, “The public in Israel understands today that we deserve, at minimum, for the law to be applied to Area C, which is not all of Judea and Samaria.”
On Wednesday, the Knesset House Committee, of which Kisch is chairman, decided to have Knesset Legal Adviser Eyal Yinon instruct all legislative committees’ legal advisers to have the panels discuss how each bill on its agenda will apply to the West Bank, whether in the text of the law or through a military order.