Ministers Approve Applying Israel Law to Yehudah and Shomron

YERUSHALAYIM (Reuters/Hamodia) -

A ministerial committee approved a controversial bill on Sunday that would ensure the application of Israeli law to Jewish communities in Yehudah and Shomron without recourse to formal annexation.

But Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, Israel’s chief negotiator in peace talks with the Palestinians that collapsed in April, said she would appeal the decision, effectively putting Knesset ratification on indefinite hold.

The region’s 350,000 residents are already effectively under the jurisdiction of civilian courts in Israel because the Knesset has already applied laws — primarily criminal and tax laws and military conscription — to them.

But to ensure that other Israeli laws are binding on local residents, the military commander there has to transpose them — at his discretion — into military regulations.

The new draft bill would have made it mandatory for the commander to issue, within 45 days of a law’s passage, an identically-phrased military order, effectively ensuring that all ratified legislation also applies there.

The bill — dubbed The Norms Law — was sponsored by MK Orit Struk (Jewish Home) and MK Yariv Levin (Likud) and passed the Ministerial Committee for Legislation by a vote of 6 to 4.

According to its sponsors, the bill is intended to extend basic rights to Israeli citizens living in Yehudah and Shomron, notably labor laws. It would entitle them to benefit from minimum-wage laws, sick pay and other workplace-related measures.

Livni, who voted against it, said “the real goal of this bill is to normalize an abnormal situation — an expanding occupation masquerading as civil rights.”