(photo credit: AP)
A new subcommittee of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee has been tasked with confronting the civilian issues facing the West Bank.
The committee, which is being headed by MK Otniel Schneller (Kadima), was formed in the wake of a number of incidents in the West Bank - particularly the occupation of a house in Hebron by a group of Jewish settlers - that resulted in complaints from the civilian Jewish and Palestinian communities.
"We found that there was a need for a committee to deal directly with these issues," said Schneller, who formerly served as the Yesha Council secretary-general. He said the committee would meet to create and discuss laws surrounding the security fence, illegal outposts, checkpoints and settlement blocks.
The subcommittees of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee all enjoy the same protection and security. All of the meetings and discussions are closed to the public and media, unless the committee chairman explicitly opens the meeting.
Schneller said the committee was already discussing two bills relating to military protection around the Jewish settlement blocks. The committee is also scheduled to discuss several new reports on illegal settlement activity and the security fence near Modi'in.
"We are dealing with sensitive political, diplomatic and military issues of which there are many, many opinions. We have members of every party, from Meretz to National Union, on the subcommittee," said Schneller.
The committee includes MKs Silvan Shalom (Likud), Matan Vilna'i (Labor), Ran Cohen (Meretz), Shlomo Benizri (Shas), Amira Dotan (Kadima) and Zvi Hendel (National Union-National Religious Party).