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In blow to coalition, Knesset votes down bill to renew West Bank law

Carrie Keller-Lynn is a political and legal correspondent for The Times of Israel

A bill that would renew the application of Israeli criminal and some civil law to Israelis in the West Bank fails its first reading in the Knesset plenum after two coalition MKs vote against the measure and four other coalition MKs avoid the vote.

The result is a serious setback for the rickety governing coalition, with the opposition — bent on bringing the coalition down — voting against the measure despite supporting it ideologically.

Meretz MK Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi and Ra’am MK Mazen Ghanaim are the only coalition members to vote against the bill. Ra’am’s other three lawmakers are strategically absent from the plenum to avoid voting, as is rebel Yamina MK Idit Silman.

The finally tally is 52 for and 58 against, with additional MKs absent — due to COVID and other issues — paired off between the opposition and the coalition.

The bill would renew a longstanding measure extending Israeli law to citizens living in the West Bank. The measure must be renewed every five years, and failure to pass it could have far-reaching consequences for settlers.

Although technically the extension bill could be delayed further to next week and still meet its end-of-June deadline, the chances of bringing the measure through its committee process, and then second, and third readings before the deadline would be slim, coalition sources say.

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