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Military Courts Chief to Consider Imposing Israeli Law in Judea and Samaria

President of the military court in the West Bank Colonel Aharon Mishnayot says he will promote an initiative to apply Israeli Penal Law in Judea and Samaria, where military security laws and Jordanian criminal law have been in effect since 1967, Haaretz reports this morning.

Since the Israeli occupation of Judea and Samaria is still considered temporary, the Jordanian penal code is still the law of the land, together with some 1700 military orders that have been added over the years. Nevertheless, court procedure and the rules of evidence are followed as they are in Israel, based on a military order to that effect.

Security laws are by far more stringent in Judea and Samaria than they are in Israel, in order to cope with terrorism-based felonies. For instance, murder is punishable by death in Judea and Samaria (the law was never implemented), compared to life in prison in Israel. Attempted murder gets life imprisonment compared to 20 years in Israel. On the other hand, Jordanian law does not punish a man who rapes his wife. The two codes also differ on the rights of detainees and on detaining and interrogating minors.

Pointing out that Colonel Mishnayot is a resident of Efrat, in Judea, Haaretz reports that recently, as chief of the military courts across the green line, he has been promoting the idea of legal reform that would apply the full Israeli Penal Law in the territories under his jurisdiction.

Mishnayot is careful to emphasize that his aim is not to introduce a de facto annexation of Judea and Samaria, but to put an end to instances of injustice stemming from the differences between the codes which often contradict each. He proposes to use a military decree to impose Israeli law in the “territories,” a factor which would be a barrier before an unwanted slippery slope toward annexation.

Haaretz notes that Israeli law already applies in Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria, and new laws enacted in Israeli are automatically applicable in those areas. Israelis who commit felonies in J&S are tried in Israeli courts according to Israeli law.

Real estate law, on the other hand, is a true legal nightmare currently, being comprised of a seemingly random hodgepodge of Turkish, British, Jordanian, military and Israeli laws, a fact which on occasion is being used by forces hostile to Jewish settlement in the area to annul legal transaction and uproot legal residents.

The IDF spokesman’s office pointed out that the decision on Mishnayot’s proposal will be made in time by those in charge of legal issues in the area.

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