A bill that would extend all Israel’s new laws onto the Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank has been approved by the Israeli ministerial committee. Some ministers however criticized this attempt to annex another part of Palestinian territory.
According to the new bill approved by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Sunday, the Israeli laws would be applied through a military decree of Israel Defense Forces Central Command thus implying Israeli sovereignty on those territories in the West Bank. Within 45 days of any law’s passage in parliament, the commander would issue an identically-phrased military order, effectively ensuring that the ratified legislation also applies to Jewish settlers.
Six ministers voted in favor of the proposal while four voted against it. Justice Minister and former chief negotiator with the Palestinians Tzipi Livni announced she would appeal the decision.
“The real goal of this bill is to normalize an abnormal situation – an expanding occupation masquerading as civil rights,” she said.
“This stands in complete contradiction with international law which Israel has accepted,” Zehava Gal-On, leader of leftist party Meretz, stated. “Whoever chooses to live in the settlements knows this is occupied territory. Now they want to conduct a de facto annexation while only extending the law to settlers, which creates a policy of apartheid.”
The sponsors of the so-called Norms Law meanwhile said such arrangements would not change the status of the West Bank or contravene international law. They say both Israelis and Palestinians will benefit, however since the bill is not retroactive, voting rights for example will not be extended to Palestinian people. It is also unclear to which areas the ruling might eventually be applied.
“Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) is home to 350,000 Israeli citizens that vote for the Knesset, but their lives are not managed by it because the Israeli law does not apply,” the bill’s advocates said according to Ynet. “This is unacceptable situation which harms residents and undoubtedly infringes on their rights, discriminating against them.”
The new law is widely seen as a step toward annexation amid widening Israeli settlement activity considered illegal by most countries. Latest report suggests Israel is planning to claim some 3,176 acres of Palestinian land around a West Bank village near central Jerusalem for “for military purposes,” according to residents of the village who were handed orders signed by the head of IDF Central Command.
The territories in the West bank were taken under Israeli military control following the Six-day war in 1967. Since then Israel built numerous settlements which are now under military regulation with different laws being applied arbitrarily to certain areas.
With some 2.4 million Palestinians living there, the Israeli occupied territories of the West Bank along with the Gaza Strip have been seeking full Palestinian statehood and independence from Israel for decades now. But despite international criticism, the Israeli government encourages the Jewish population in the West Bank to build new settlements.
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