Settlement museum bill might signal annexation plan

Knesset will hear proposed law that would place West Bank settlement museums under Israeli law, intended as first step in annexation.

Jordan valley settlement 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Jordan valley settlement 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Knesset will soon hold its first reading of a bill that would place West Bank settlement museums under Israeli law, but the legislation seeks much more than that.
On the surface of it, the bill is about museum funding and allows those institutions to apply for government money on an equal footing with museums within the pre-Six Day War armistice line.
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But the bill’s author, MK Uri Ariel (National Union), has been blunt about his plan to annex Judea and Samaria through a de facto legislative process, by which each Israeli law would be amended to apply to West Bank settlements. At present, they are under military law.
On Wednesday, the Knesset Education Committee, during a meeting in which only three members were present, Ariel and Israel Beiteinu MKs Robert Ilatov and Alex Miller unanimously approved the museum bill for its first reading by the legislature. It becomes law only after a third reading passes.
“It could be voted on in the Knesset plenum [for a first reading] as early as next week or the week after,” said Miller, who chairs the Education Committee.
During the meeting, Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat (Likud) spoke out in support of the bill, which she said was necessary because the cultural institutions in Judea and Samaria had been denied adequate funding.
“The time has come to end the discrimination,” Ariel said. If the government gives money to support cultural institutions, then all its citizens should benefit, he added.
More to the point, Ariel said, Judea and Samaria is the historical cradle of the nation. It is “absurd” that its museums can’t get government money, he said.
As a resident of the Ariel settlement in Samaria, Miller told The Jerusalem Post he sees how the problem with the region’s museums are part and parcel of the larger issue of living in an area of the country which is under military law.
Currently, he said, an “absurd situation” exists in which Israel is a democratic country, and yet in Judea and Samaria its citizens do not have the same rights as other Israelis.
He agreed with Ariel that every relevant law has to be amended to remedy that inequity.