Ministers Advance Bid to Apply Israeli Laws in West Bank

According to new directive, ministerial committee would review every government-sponsored bill to decide whether it would apply in West Bank

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked with President Reuven Rivlin at a judge appointment ceremony, April 2017.
Olivier Fitoussi

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and Tourism Minister Yariv Levin are advancing a directive that would require ministers to decide whether each government-sponsored bill would apply in the West Bank. 

Currently Israeli legislation is applied in the West Bank through military orders or by being incorporated in the regional and local councils' regulations. In the latter case, the laws only apply to Jewish settlements within the councils. Rarely is legislation explicitly applied across Area C, including Palestinian towns.  

Should the legislation clash with international law, the ministerial committee might decide not to apply it in the territories.

A Justice Ministry source told Haaretz that the main goal is to apply private laws, but not only. "There is significant gap for example when it comes to labor laws, which create situations where workers in the territories don’t have the same rights as those working within Israel's territories," the source said. "These are issues that need to be regulated and they are less problematic than planning, construction and land."

The directive joins a series of steps aimed at establishing a system to apply Israeli law in the West Bank. According to the source, a seminar was held for government ministries' legal advisers this week on the matter. In the future each ministry is meant to have an official who would deal with the issue. According to the source, the Justice Ministry is also expected to hire officials to coordinate relevant activity, under the supervision of the deputies attorney general in charge of constitutional and international law.    

"It's no longer acceptable that the government addresses the needs of residents in some parts of the country, while others are neglected," Shaked and Levin told Yedioth Ahronoth on Friday. "It's unacceptable that Israeli law ignores 430,000 citizens of Israel who live in Judea and Samaria."