The Ministerial Committee on Legislative Affairs approved by a majority of seven supporters against one in opposition – with Health Minister Yael German (Yesh Atid) opposing – a bill proposed by MK Orit Struk (Habayit Hayehudi), according to which women's labor law will be applied in the West Bank.
The move to expand an existing law to include the disputed Judea and Samaria territories is not irregular, but its timing in coincidence with the renewal of peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians presents a position which does not necessarily bode well with negotiations.
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Under the bill, women working for Israeli employers in the West Bank will be entitled to all the protections provided by Israel's labor laws in cases in which they are absent from work due to maternity leave, pregnancy, adoption or fertility treatments.
The law applies equally to Israeli and Palestinian women.
Currently, Israeli law does not have jurisdiction in the territories, which are governed by laws decreed by the IDF general in charge of the area.
A source with the committee predicted that petitions to cancel the law might be filed with the High Court, but in the meantime, the bill will continue along the legislative route, and move onto the Knesset where it will likely enjoy coalition support.
According to the proposal, the law in its current form "is confined to the territories included in Israel's sovereignty and does not apply to Israeli citizens living in Judea and Samaria. In light of this, the rights of women in these areas are trampled, and they are barred from enjoying the rights the legislature worked to grant them.
"The proposed legislation requests to apply the current Women Labor Law both within and outside the green line and prevent the situation by which women rights are violated," regardless of the women's nationality.
In wake of the bill's approval by the committee, MK Struk said: "The approval of the bill is the normal and proper thing to do – it recognizes, at last, that it is inconceivable that human rights in general, and women's rights specifically, will end at the green-line. As the prime minister said last week: 'I will not allow the (rights of) hundreds of thousands of Israelis living in Judea and Samaria to be hurt."
The bill was formulated several months ago after MK Struk received a request from a Shomron resident who lost her job as a caretaker because of her pregnancy.
According to MK Struk, in wake of the woman's request, she contacted the Economy Ministry, which is in charge of enforcing the Women Labor Law, in a bid to prevent such incidents from recurring.
However, the ministry, which is headed by Habayit Hayehudi chairman Naftali Bennett, responded that its hands were tied because of "lack of jurisdiction in implementing the law beyond the green-line."
MK Struk's legislation is intended to circumnavigate this issue and will thus apply to Palestinian women employed by Israelis in the West Bank.
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