Will the Netanyahu administration apply Israeli law in Judea and Samaria? Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
announced at the cabinet meeting Sunday that by the beginning of the upcoming winter session of the Knesset in October, the law discriminating between women residing within the Green Line and those residing in the territories will be amended.
The Ministerial Committee on Legislative Affairs already passed a bill to this effect, yet the committee's chairwoman Justice Minister Tzipi Livni
announced she has reservations about it, and Science and Technology Minister Yaakov Peri even filed an appeal against it.
Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein expressed his opposition to the bill. According to him, "from a legal aspect, the accumulation of applying Israeli legislation with territorial nature in this area could have international legal implications. In this context, the promotion of such proposals will have wide implications." Effectively, Weinstein explained that these actions signify annexation, which is not acceptable in international public opinion.
Weinstein added that his stance in regards to the appeal is that "it should be accepted legally and the bill should be opposed. There is urgency in regulating the legal situation in Judea and Samaria."
Women in Nablus (archives) (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)
As was first reported by Ynet, a legal flaw exposes women who reside beyond the Green Line for dismissal from work in case of pregnancy and other events that involve women and mothers.
According to the prime minister's statement, the amendment to the law will be carried out either by an order issued by the IDF
Central Command chief, who is sovereign in terms of law and regulations in the territories, or through Knesset legislation that will correct the discrimination between women on different sides of the Green Line. In case of legislation that will be enforced in the territories, it will be a precedent since until now, the residents of Judea and Samaria were subject to the laws of the military administration.
As reported on Ynet, about six months ago, Knesset Member Orit Strok (Habayit Hayehudi)
submitted an amendment to the law, after it became clear that women residing in settlements and in Palestinian cities do not have Israeli labor laws applied to them. One of the women, who turned to the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry for help after being fired for being pregnant, was told that the ministry is not authorized to help her since she lives in the West Bank.
Subsequently, a special session of the Knesset committees was convened, in which the law's discrimination was examined. The prime minister is expected to announce Sunday that the matter should be dealt with within the month.
According to Netanyahu, "the citizens of Israel, including those who reside in Judea and Samaria, deserve to have equal rights, and I am committed to that." He also ordered further examination of labor law differences between Israelis residing in the territories and those who live within Israeli borders.
MK Strok wrote a letter to the prime minister Saturday night and requested to promote the bill. Following a deliberation on the matter on Sunday, Struk congratulated "the prime minister's devotion for the equal rights of women in Judea and Samaria, yet I regret that he agreed to the demands of AG Weinstein to do so by a military order. Any intelligent person understands this is a hypocritical and baseless demand that is inconsistent with the rule that Weinstein himself defined, according to which personal legislation in Judea and Samaria is the norm. Netanyahu also understands this and it is a pity that he did not reject the demand."
A heated discussion developed in the cabinet meeting in regards to the appeal filed by Minister Peri against the bill. Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel said that in the next few months there will be work done in the Justice Ministry in order to apply all personal legislation on the citizens of the West Bank. "The citizens of Judea and Samaria are fulfilling their obligations to the State like any other citizen. It is inconceivable that they will have to fight for the basic rights that every citizen is legally given every time."
Minister Peri said: "The proposal refers to categorically applying Israeli law on the territories, which has far-reaching implications on the authorities of government officials and agencies and applying them in the area. The sole reason for choosing the solution to this bill is an attempt to slowly annex Judea and Samaria through applying Israeli law – that is how it will be perceived by our allies around the world and the other party to the negotiations.
He warned: "The government's support of the bill will be interpreted as an attempt to put spikes in the wheels of negotiations, will signal to the entire world that Israel
intends on consolidating its control, to the point of annexation, in territories that are being negotiated, and will present the government as one that negotiates in bad faith."
party also slammed the bill. MK Issawi Farij said: "It really is nice that MK Ori Strok and her friends from Habyit Hayehudi became the knights for the rule of law and rights for the Palestinian woman. It really is heartwarming. But there is no shame and no limit to hypocrisy. The fighter for human rights in the territories, who usually does not consider Palestinians as humans, suddenly remembered there is a violation of labor laws towards Palestinian women. What about several other laws that are being violated in the territories? Like the right to equality? Freedom of movement? Palestinian rights to property and land? The right to not have soldiers break into your home in the middle of the night?"
Moran Azulay contributed to this report
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