Ayelet Shaked speaks at Nuremberg Symposium in Krakow, Poland .
(photo credit: YOSSI ZELIGER,MOSHE MILNER)
Perhaps less celebrated than other commemorations this time of year, May 14 will mark Ayelet Shaked’s first anniversary as justice minister. The only secular minister of her Bayit Yehudi Party has used the time since her elevation for a focused pursuit of extending Israeli sovereignty over the disputed territory of biblical Judea and Samaria.
Her previous efforts in the Knesset since the election of 2013 had only hinted at the breadth of her political talent, one not usually associated with the academic background of a BSc in electrical engineering and computer science. She joined the Economic Affairs Committee, the House Committee, the Committee on Foreign Workers, was an alternate member of the Finance Committee, chaired the Committee for the Enforcement of the Security Service Law and the National-Civilian Service Law, and the Special Committee for the Equal Sharing of the Burden Bill. She also headed 10 Knesset lobbies.
These worthy causes deserved Shaked’s support, but it was only during the past year that the crusade closest to her heart was revealed, as befits Israel’s minister of justice: the equality of law in the territories.
Shaked announced last week that she is pushing to have Israeli law applied to the West Bank within a year. She boldly laid out this goal before a conference of the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel, ignoring the categorical opposition of her senior ministry staff, not to mention that of former attorney-general Yehuda Weinstein.
“I established a joint committee along with the Defense Ministry to work on legislation for Judea and Samaria, the purpose essentially being that, ultimately, any law passed in the Knesset will either apply to Judea and Samaria by virtue of the legislation itself, or by an order of the commanding general [OC Central Command], or by any other manner considered appropriate,” she explained.
Even the rigors of computer science, however, may not have equipped the minister for tampering with the complexities of the legislative process. For one thing, Israeli law applies to the settlers of Judea and Samaria on a personal basis, under the law that extends the emergency regulations. Regulations that apply on a regional basis in the territories, however, do so by order of the regional military commander.
Closer to home, former foreign minister MK Tzipi Livni (Zionist Union) warned that Shaked’s plan would lead to a binational state, with a Palestinian majority in the Knesset.
“The right-wing government is quietly beginning the process of annexation in order to impose its ideology,” Livni stated. “The final result will be the collapse of the two-state idea, the imposition of two legal systems in one state, mass international pressure and, in the end, 2.5 million Palestinians with the right to vote for the Knesset.”
Shaked’s latest bid at annexation follows bills submitted in the previous government by MKs Shaked, Orit Struck, Yariv Levin and Ze’ev Elkin. They were dropped after being rigorously opposed by then-attorney-general Weinstein, although cabinet members in the Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved them for government support.
This has failed to deter Shaked. At a pre-Passover rally in Hebron, the minister said Jews buying property in Hebron, as in all of Judea and Samaria, is not an issue of real estate, but rather “an ideological act driven by love for the Jewish people and their land. Jews have lived in this city since the time of the Bible,” adding they will continue to live there forever.
The justice minister’s understanding of democracy was again called into question by her recent speech to the annual Bar Association conference, in which she condemned the High Court of Justice’s ruling over the natural gas industry outline. She sought to justify her critique by appealing to democracy as solely the rule of the majority, and argued that the separation of powers gives the government free rein to rule.
Shaked’s interpretation of the separation of powers to mean that the government can do as it wants, independent of the Knesset and the High Court, is a dangerous corruption of what we still like to refer to as the only democracy in the Middle East.