Defense Minister Benny Gantz says he has instructed the security establishment to weigh possible workarounds if the coalition is unable to renew a measure extending Israeli criminal and some civil law to Israelis in the West Bank.
At a faction meeting of his Blue and White party, Gantz says one option is having the top military commander in the West Bank issue an ordinance to apply eligible parts of Israeli criminal and civil law to settlers.
“I have instructed the security system to map and examine which of the regulations can be applied as directives by the regional commander, in case the legislation is delayed,” Gantz says.
This would include such measures as asking the regional commander to approve the extension of social security to Israelis living in the West Bank, a potential step that Gantz calls “ridiculous.”
Despite facing a determined challenge from the opposition to block the law, it remains unclear if the coalition can muster its full strength to vote for the bill. Meretz MK Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi reportedly said earlier that she will not vote for the measure and the Islamist Ra’am party remains a question mark.
“I am aware of the difficulties of left-wing elements,” the defense minister says, nodding to Rinawie Zoabi and her fellow Meretz MKs, several of whom say they oppose the law but will vote with the coalition.
Gantz calls on all coalition members to “vote in favor” of the bill to preserve “the status quo,” adding that “it is our duty to act responsibly, to enable the preservation of law and order, and not to allow chaos that will turn Judea and Samaria into a Wild West.”