Bill Expanding Administrative Courts’ Jurisdiction to Settlements Goes to Ministerial Panel

Bill is one of a number of efforts by right-wing legislators to advance laws that in practice impose Israeli sovereignty on the settlements

MK Bezalel Smotrich at the Knesset, December 2016.
Emil Salman

The Ministerial Committee for Legislation is scheduled to vote on Sunday whether to support a draft law that would allow the country’s administrative affairs courts to rule on conflicts between Israelis living in settlements and state authorities operating in the territories.

The Administrative Affairs Courts Law of 2000 authorized Israel’s district courts to hear complaints by private individuals against government agencies, as a way of reducing the workload of the Supreme Court. An additional goal was to increase citizens’ access to legal recourse in these matters and to provide an additional forum for appeals.

These courts are not, however, authorized to hear cases involving disputes with a ruling by the Civil Administration or other state authorities operating in the territories by a resident of a settlement.

MK Bezalel Smotrich (Habayit Hayehudi) is the main sponsor of the bill. He and his colleagues say the current situation increases the Supreme Court’s workload and discriminates against settlers in the handling of administrative disputes.

Their bill is one of a number of efforts by right-wing legislators to advance laws that in practice impose Israeli sovereignty on the settlements, such as the Regularization Law allowing the retroactive expropriation of privately owned Palestinian land on which settlements or settlement outposts have been built. A bill to annex the settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim was recently blocked by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but Smotrich and MK Yoav Kish (Likud) recently presented a new legislative initiative that would annex Betar Ilit, Efrat, Givat Ze’ev, the Gush Etzion settlements and Ma’aleh Adumim to Jerusalem.

Another law, introduced by MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli (Habayit Hayehudi) and Coalition Chairman David Bitan (Likud) calls for repealing the Gaza Disengagement Law and permitting Jews to return to live in settlements in northern Samaria that were evacuated in 2005.