route 443 248 no 88.
(photo credit: AP)
Israel Beiteinu MK Moshe Matalon acquiesced to the prime minister’s request to withdraw his bill, which would see Israel annex the West Bank section of Route 443, from the agenda of Sunday’s Ministerial Committee on Legislation meeting.
However, Matalon told The Jerusalem Post that the bill would be brought back to the committee after being discussed by government leaders.
The Ministerial Committee on Legislation votes on bills submitted by MKs, to determine whether the coalition will support them in the Knesset plenum.
Matalon said he was certain the government would support the bill, which would see the application of Israeli law, jurisdiction and administration over the highway.
“My party is behind me on this and we will coordinate it with the other coalition parties,” said Matalon, who added that he expected the Labor Party to oppose the initiative.
Some 14 kilometers of Route 443, the double-lane road linking Jerusalem to Modi’in and Ben-Gurion Airport, were built on land expropriated from Palestinian farmers in the West Bank. In the wake of the second intifada and several terrorists attacks on the road, the army barred Palestinians from using it. That policy was recently rejected as a violation of international law by the High Court of Justice, and is due to end in four months.
Matalon’s bill is meant to undo the High Court ruling.
“I want a constitutional situation in which the State of Israel will determine who can drive on this highway and who cannot,” he said. “We can’t have a situation where there is only one main road [Route 1] linking Jerusalem to the center of the country.”
Seventeen other MKs representing Israel Beiteinu, Shas, United Torah Judaism, the National Union and Habayit Hayehudi signed their names to the bill.
A spokesman for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told the Post
he wanted to give more thought to the bill and examine various aspects and implications.
The bill was brought to the Ministerial Committee on Legislation with
unusual haste and may have caught Netanyahu off guard. It was presented
to the Knesset Presidium – composed of the speaker and deputy speakers
– on January 25 and, because of the urgency of the matter, the usual
waiting period was waived and the bill was brought to the ministerial
If the bill were to receive government support, it would mark the first
time that a government of Israel officially supported the annexation of
any part of the West Bank except for the 70.5 square kilometers of land
that are now part of Jerusalem. Israel also extended Israeli law and
administration to the Golan Heights in 1981, in what is widely referred
to as an annexation. No country recognizes these unilateral annexations.