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Bill would require IDF to copy Israeli civil law for settlements

Right-wing lawmakers sponsor legislation meant to equalize labor and other protections between Israel and settlements

Tamar Pileggi is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

A view of the settlement of Kiryat Arba, in the southern West Bank, adjoining the city of Hebron. (Michal Fattal/Flash90)
A view of the settlement of Kiryat Arba, in the southern West Bank, adjoining the city of Hebron. (Michal Fattal/Flash90)

A cabinet committee will consider on Sunday a bill that would force the IDF’s Central Command to issue military directives for Israelis in the West Bank matching civil laws passed in the Knesset.

Under current Israeli law, the West Bank (except for areas within the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem) is not part of Israeli territory to which Israeli civil law applies. The military governor of the West Bank, who is also the IDF’s OC Central Command, is empowered to issue military directives related to civilian life in the area — including labor protections, regulation of commerce and the like.

The bill, which will be debated Sunday in the Ministerial Committee for Legislation, would only apply to Israeli citizens, and is meant to grant Israelis in the West Bank the protections of Israeli civil law without requiring an Israeli annexation of Jewish-settled parts of the territory.

The bill is sponsored by MKs Yariv Levin (Likud) and Orit Strock (Jewish Home), who said it “will protect the rights and obligations of all Israelis in Judea and Samaria [the Hebrew term for the West Bank]. There is no justifiable reason why Israeli citizens living in Judea and Samaria are unable to self-determine rights and obligations through the representatives they elected to the Knesset for this purpose, without applying sovereignty to the territory,” they added in a joint statement, according to Haaretz.

The MKs also said Israeli citizens who reside in the West Bank are being discriminated against under current Israeli law, which places them under military rule.

Strock and Levin said implementing the bill would not change the diplomatic status of the settlements or violate international law, as it would not place the areas in question under civil law, but rather amounted to instructions to the military to incorporate the stipulations of Israeli civil law in its directives.

The bill’s co-sponsors include coalition chairman MK Ze’ev Elkin (Likud), Jewish Home faction chair MK Ayelet Shaked, Shas faction chair Avraham Michaeli, Knesset Law Committee chair MK David Rotem (Yisrael Beytenu) and United Torah Judaism faction chair MK Menachem Eliezer Mozes.

In a legal opinion submitted to the cabinet committee, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein said he opposed the proposed bill on the grounds that it would effectively undermine the authority of the IDF Central Command in administering the territory, and noted that there are other mechanisms in place to implement Israeli civil and criminal statutes in the West Bank.

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