Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Habayit Hayehudi) on Monday stated that she is working, together with AG Avichai Mandelblit, on an outline for imposing Israeli law on the Israeli-controlled part of Judea and Samaria. Established by the 1993 Oslo accords as Area C, it covers 60% of Judea and Samaria and is home to an estimated 350,000 Jews who live in 225 communities (including outposts yet to be approved), and 30,000 Arabs. Israel already has control over security and land-management in Area C, and many in Israel view the area, for all intents and purposes, as a future part of Israel, as opposed to Areas A and B, which were designated as the foundation of a future Palestinian autonomous territory.
Speaking to Army Radio, Shaked said she plans to appoint a committee based on the new outline, to examine every law passed by the Knesset and decide whether it can be imposed concurrently on the Jewish communities in Area C as well, via a military decree (Tzav Aluf). Past attempts to impose an automatic application of new Israeli laws in Judea and Samaria have failed, including two separate attempts by Habayit Hayehudi. These included a minimalist bill to apply Israeli laws in the “Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria,” and even a bill prohibiting discrimination in the supply of goods and services to Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, which has been waiting for a Knesset vote since 2011.
Shaked is hoping that establishing “a team who will examine every single law” for its applicability in Judea and Samaria will indirectly create a promotional device that would be on hand to pressure the IDF General Officer Commanding (GOC) and the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) to pay better attention.
At the moment, the legal picture in Area C is very complex, whereby the law there is comprised of Ottoman and Jordanian laws, combined with military decrees of the GOC, with the Supreme Court playing referee. In recent years there has been a growing tendency on the part of the GOC to apply new Israeli laws as soon as they had been passed. Last March the Knesset passed a law enabling settlers to receive on gains inside the green line the same tax benefits they are entitled to in Judea and Samaria; and a law coordinating home buying taxes so settlers won’t have to pay twice. Despite the fact that both laws—which were passed late at night when the leftwing parties were not paying attention—the legislation was condemned as “crawling annexation” of the “occupied territories.” MK Tzipi Livni (Zionist Camp) said it was a quiet way for the Netanyahu government “to impose its ideology.” Which, presumably, is what you do when you win.
The last time Livni’s party was the big electoral winner, she and her partners used their power to transfer some 8,000 Jews from their homes, the first time a Jewish community had been forcibly evicted from its homes since the end of WW2.
On Sunday, in a similar vein, Shaked said that she intends to equalize the legal conditions for Israelis on either side of the green line, either by using the military decree or by new legislation. Speaking at the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel, Shaked added that “It’s important that the Justice Minister have political power and political ability.”
Yes, it is, and this Justice Minister appears to be using hers wisely and bravely.