Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked’s portfolio automatically gives her a seat on the security cabinet. But more important to Shaked than the rule of law she’s responsible for are the settlers who vote for her Habayit Hayehudi party and influence its internal rankings, and who want to legalize the inequality between first-class Israeli citizens and fourth-class Palestinian subjects (in the middle are Israeli Arabs and residents of East Jerusalem who are not citizens).
Shaked announced Monday that she’s working with Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit on a plan to apply Israeli law in the West Bank. She said a committee to be established will examine each law that passes in the Knesset and decide whether it should immediately be applied to the settlements as well by military order.
Shaked’s proposal comes after repeated efforts to legislate bills that smack of annexation. Bills submitted by Orit Strock, Yariv Levin, Zeev Elkin and Shaked herself in the previous government, in an effort to get future laws to apply to in the West Bank, were opposed by then-Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein and were ultimately scuttled, although they were approved by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation.
Also in the previous Knesset, Habayit Hayehudi pushed an initiative to apply labor laws in the West Bank to help pregnant women in the settlements. But it backtracked when it became clear that the legislation would improve Palestinian rights and add an economic burden to employers in the settlements.
Israel has not been inadvertently avoiding the process Shaked advocates. To date, Israeli law applies to the settlers on a personal basis under the law that extends emergency regulations, while whatever applies on a regional basis is by order of the regional military commander. There are already Israeli laws “imported” to the territories that favor the settlers, and Shaked’s proposal will make the situation worse because the laws will be applied more systematically.
The proposal is expected to deepen the apartheid in Israel’s code of law that effectively exists between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. It will also cause Israel damage in the international arena. The proposal is akin to de facto annexation, making discrimination in the territories official. This will bring the world down on Israel’s head, which is why even firm opponents of withdrawal like former premiers Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir avoided such a step.
Mendelblit must refuse to support the legal bypass Shaked is trying to pave, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – who repeatedly says that he’s ready “for negotiations with the Palestinians without preconditions” – must protect the State of Israel’s interests, which are being trampled by the interests of the messianic Greater Israel.
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