Israeli Arab Lawmakers Vow to Step Up Boycott Calls Over Wave of Pro-settlement Legislation

MK Haneen Zoabi tells fellow Mks 'without punishment, sanctions and boycott by the Europeans and the international community, Israel will continue unhindered and will even get worse'

Rami Shlush

Lawmakers of the mostly Arab Joint List party held a special discussion in the Knesset Monday on the wave of legislation to annex the settlements and to place them under Israeli law. The lawmakers said they would raise the tone of the calls to boycott Israel. "The international community, the international press and the Arab world need to hear about this," MK Jamal Zahalka said.

Four laws promoting the recognition of the settlements' status passed during the last Knesset sessions: The "Regularization Law" to expropriate Palestinian lands on which settlement houses were built; a law that raises the level of military courts in the West Bank making their rulings valid also in civilian courts within Israel proper; a law barring the boycott of settlers due to their place of residence that places fines on offenders; and a law that extends the authority of the Settlement Division, the governments construction apparatus in the West Bank. 

The lawmakers said during their discussion that there are another 22 laws aimed at upgrading the status of the settlements in different stages of legislation. Many of them are considered hopeless causes though.

Zahalka is convinced that the Netanyahu government has identified the Trump presidency as an opportunity to strengthen the legal hold on the settlements. "One of the greatest dangers is that not only there is a right-wing government in Israel, but that there is an extreme right-wing administration in the U.S. The Israeli right believes that now is the window of opportunity with the rise of Trump to pass laws quietly, so that no-one sees or hears. Our task here is to raise an alarm, to try and thwart and not let these laws pass quietly," Zahalka said.

MK Yousef Jabareen called, during the discussion, for increasing the boycott pressure on Israel. According to him, "This is not a random list of laws, but an extremely well-planned action, aimed at annexing areas B and C to Israel. This discussion is a weird vision: It is almost the only discussion in the Knesset on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of occupation. This subject was supposed to be in the center of Israeli public debate but has been pushed aside to the sidelines of political discussion. Unfortunately, this can be seen as a success on the part of the right and the Netanyahu government."

Jabareen added that "You can't end the occupation and fight Apartheid without the UN and the world's nations taking responsibility and take the lead in putting diplomatic and economic pressure on Israel, including an economic boycott of everything that has to do with Israeli activity in the territories occupied in 1967."

MK Haneen Zoabi called on the international community to place sanctions on Israel in order to stop the deepening of the occupation. According to her, "It is important to make it clear to the world that as long as Israel isn't paying for the crimes of the occupation, it will continue to deepen its hold, whether through legalization or by establishing new facts on the ground."

Zoabi claimed that this is not merely a change in legislation, but a real change taking place in Israeli society. "Israel will continue this oppression and with this criminality and brutality as long as it doesn't pay the price, without punishment, sanctions and boycott by the Europeans and the international community, Israel will continue unhindered and will even get worse."

MK Osama Saadi said that since 1967 and until about a year ago, Israel considered the lands of the West Bank as occupied territory, and didn't place them under Israeli law. "A year ago, we recognized a new policy and set of legislation. It began with the 'Regulation Law' which singled a change in legislative conception by Israel," Saadi said