By Joshua Mitnick / LATimes.com
The Israeli justice minister has said she wants to extend civil laws to Jewish settlements in the West Bank [aka Judea and Samaria], a move that critics say would put the country at odds with the international community.
As Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked told a forum of right-wing lawyers, she’s pushing a policy that would ensure that all legislation passed by parliament, the Knesset, would automatically be applied to settlements in the West Bank.
The land has been under Israeli control since the 1967 Six-Day War. Palestinians want to form an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
“My goal is that, within a year, for every law passed by the Knesset, there will be a team that will translate … it in Judea and Samaria,” Shaked said Sunday, May 1.
Shaked’s right-wing Jewish Home party is a junior partner in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition government. It’s unclear whether Netanyahu would support such a policy because it would undercut his declarations of support for negotiations to create a Palestinian state and could deepen Israel’s international isolation on such issues.
Opposition politicians and legal critics said Shaked’s proposal would enhance the legal disparity between 370,000 Israelis living in West Bank settlements and 2.6 million Palestinians living in cities and villages.
Yair Lapid, leader of the centrist Yesh Atid party, asked: “Can two people live at a distance of 30 meters, and one person will have one law and the other will have another law?”
Since re-capturing territories from Arab opponents in 1967, Israeli governments have taken steps to extend Israel’s laws to the Golan Heights and all of Jerusalem and offer permanent residency to Arabs living there, but have avoided a similar move in the West Bank even though it has expanded settlements.
Shaked’s comments are in line with annexation supported by her party, said Gilead Sher, a former legal advisor to Israeli government negotiating teams.