Law would put settlement museums under Israeli law

Gov't backs bill described by author MK Uri Ariel as "a step toward annexing Judea and Samaria"; passes preliminary reading with 51 votes.

Israeli flag flutters over settlement of Ofra 311 R (photo credit: Laszlo Balogh / Reuters)
Israeli flag flutters over settlement of Ofra 311 R
(photo credit: Laszlo Balogh / Reuters)
Wednesday threw its support behind a Knesset bill regarding museum funding, which, according to its creator MK Uri Ariel (National Union), was designed to start a legislative process that would take a step toward annexing Judea and Samaria.
The move comes amid failed attempts by right-wing politicians to generate legislative and governmental support to fully annex Judea and Samaria, which is under military rule. As such, Israeli law does not fully apply there.
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In the absence of such support, Ariel told The Jerusalem Post that he had come to believe that it could be better to advance the matter in small stages.
To initiate the process, he asked the Knesset on Wednesday to approve a preliminary bill that would allow museums in the settlements to apply for government funding.
It passed on a preliminary reading, by 51 to 9 votes. To become law, the bill must now go through a number of legislative hoops, including a vote by the Knesset Education, Culture and Sports Committee. It must also pass three readings in the Knesset plenum.
During a brief speech before the Knesset, Ariel said, “I’m starting a project to examine legislations that do not apply to Israeli residents in Judea and Samaria.”
Every week, he said a legislator would propose an amendment to existing laws, so that one by one, they would be applicable in Judea and Samaria.
In this way, he said, he hoped to end the “discrimination” against the residents of Judea and Samaria. He later told the Post that he viewed his initiative as a “step toward annexing Judea and Samaria.”
The bill drew a strong show of support from Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat (Likud), who, during a lengthy speech, called Ariel’s museum bill “worthy” and “right,” and added that it had the government’s support.
“The bill is designed to determine that all Israeli citizens – wherever they are and wherever they live – are citizens with equal rights. They are citizens who have equal status,” she said.
Israeli citizens can’t be denied rights just because they live in settlements such as Ma’aleh Adumim or Kiryat Arba, said Livnat.
“The government of Israel does not discriminate against Israeli citizens that live in Judea and Samaria,” Livnat said.
The culture and sport minister added that this was her position as a citizen of Israel, and as a minister. She also said that it was the position of the Israeli government, and of its ministerial legislative committee.
Her spokesman subsequently told the Post that the minister was supporting the law regarding museum funding, and not annexation.
With regard to Ariel’s process of amending legislation to include Judea and Samaria, the spokesman said that the minister would examine each bill according to its merit.
She would likely support some, but not others, he added.
The Prime Minister’s Office confirmed that the Knesset Ministerial Legislative Committee had authorized the bill for a preliminary reading.
During the plenum debate, however, MK Taleb a-Sanaa (United Arab List - Ta’al) warned that the passage of such a bill would create a “very dangerous precedent” of applying Israeli laws outside its territory.
This is the start, he warned, “of a creeping annexation of the occupied territories.” The process of annexation, he added, should be stated clearly and openly to the whole world.
MK Danny Danon (Likud) told the Post after the vote, “What we did today is a small, important step toward the full annexation of the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria.”
MK Alex Miller (Yisrael Beiteinu) who chairs the Knesset Education, Culture and Sports Committee, said he supported the law in the plenum and would do so in his committee as well.
“I think we should apply Israeli law completely in Judea and Samaria,” said Miller.