Who rules the W. Bank airwaves?

Settlers at court over plan to establish a regional radio station in the administered territories.

The High Court of Justice this week ordered the state to present documentary proof that the West Bank military commander had the authority to instruct the minister of communications to issue a tender for a radio station for the settlers in the administered territories. The instruction came during a hearing on a petition by Gush Shalom, represented by Attorneys Gabi Laski and Smadar Ben-Natan, asking the court to prevent the establishment of such a regional radio station. Presiding Justice Miriam Na'or gave the state's representative, Attorney Avi Licht, 20 days to come up with the proof that the military commander has the power to do so. Na'or asked Licht: "Who has authorized the military commander to tell the prime minister or one of his ministers to do this or that? Isn't that like a foreign government or legislature giving orders to Israeli ministers?" The law in the West Bank is made up of Jordanian Law and military law. Israeli laws, such as income tax laws and the right to elect the Knesset, apply to the Jewish residents of the West Bank on an individual basis. In addition, the military commander issued legislation in 1979 and 1981 regarding the administration of the Jewish local and district councils. On the basis of these laws, it established a set of regulations constituting local legislation for the local and regional councils. In 2005, the military commander added an amendment to the set of regulations which incorporated most of the Second Authority Law. According to the Second Authority Law (1990), the Council of the Second Authority was authorized to determine 12 regions, not including the West Bank, which would receive local radio franchises, with the final authorization in the hands of the minister of communications. On the basis of this amendment, the military commander instructed the minister to allocate a frequency to the West Bank and ordered the Second Authority Council to designate the West Bank as an additional region, even though it is outside of Israel. Laski and Ben-Natan charged that the military commander was not authorized to do so. As a civil servant, he could not order the minister of communications to allocate a frequency. Laski and Ben-Natan also attacked the decision to establish a West Bank radio station on the grounds that it would be tantamount to rewarding Channel 7, the pirate radio station that broadcast to the settlers for many years, for its illegal actions.