IDF issues new regulations covering Area C mothers’ rights

Netanyahu does not move forward with Knesset legislation to apply Israeli law to Area C, which would be equivalent of annexing area.

Aerial view of Ariel settlement in West Bank 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Aerial view of Ariel settlement in West Bank 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
The IDF has issued new regulations for working mothers living in Area C, designed to provide them with the same rights as their counterparts within the pre-1967 lines.
Last month Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had said he would support Knesset legislation to impose Israeli law protecting the rights of pregnant and working mothers onto Area C if the military failed to provide a suitable alternative by October 13.
But on Sunday he seemed to be satisfied that a solution had been found and did not move forward with that legislation.
MK Orit Struck (Bayit Yehudi) argued that the new military legislation failed to meet the standard of equity, when it comes to ensuring that the labor rights of working mothers over the pre-1967 lines matches those afforded women who live within the Green Line.
“It has actually made the situation worse,” she said.
Under the former regulation, women working in West Bank settlements had the right of appeal to a labor court. Now their cases would not automatically be sent to the labor court and could instead be heard by a local court, Struck said.
She called on Netanyahu to keep to his word and to approve legislation that would go to the Knesset and which, if it passed, would extend existing Israeli labor laws protecting the rights of working mothers to Area C.
It is the only way to ensure equal rights for working mothers, Struck said.
She pushed for extending the legislation after a pregnant woman who lived in Judea and Samaria complained to Struck that she was fired because protective legislation did not apply to Area C of the West Bank.
This area is under Israeli military and civilian control, and as such, many laws do not apply there. If Israel were to fully extend all its laws into Area C, it would be the equivalent of annexing the area.
Such a move would meet stiff opposition from the international community, which believes that the bulk of Area C will one day be part of a Palestinian state.
In late August, Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein wrote a legal opinion on the matter in which he said that labor laws were of a “territorial nature” and that imposing them on Area C of the West Bank would have implications for Israel in the international legal arena.
But he clarified that personal laws – such as those which apply to education, taxes and army service – can be applied to the West Bank without those same implications.
Weinstein said that labor issues could be addressed through military legislation.
Once the issue of lack of equity between laws on either side of the Green Line was raised, the government agreed last month to begin a process to upgrade military regulations to prevent legal discrimination for those who live in Judea and Samaria. As part of that process, it began to evaluate all labor laws and intended to complete its work within the next three months.