West Bank: Israel Fails To Pass A Bill To Renew & Uphold Legal Status Of Illegal Settlers

Israeli opposition has voted down a push to uphold Israeli law in illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank. This blow to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s government poses a challenge to the ruling coalition and stability.

The law has been in force since Israel’s 1967 occupation of the West Bank and gives illegal settlers in the occupied West Bank the same rights as citizens in Israel. This one is automatically ratified by parliament every five years, but two members of the broad coalition, a member of the Arab Raam party and a member of the leftist Meretz party, voted at the first reading against the Bill.

The opposition, which had announced that it would vote against the bill simply to show its distrust of the government, gathered a total of 58 votes to 52 for the coalition.

As AFP reports, the government recently lost its majority in the house, setting the stage for a showdown over the “Judea and Samaria Law”, as Israel calls the occupied West Bank. If it is not passed on July 1, more than 475,000 Israelis living there will no longer have the same rights as other Israelis.

Bennett, go home. It’s time to bring Israel back to the right,” former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party responded in a brief post-vote message. According to Israeli commentators, this right-wing opposition will not block the renewal of the illegal settlement measures but will seek to weaken the government of Bennett, a leader who himself favors illegal settlement expansion.

Ahead of the vote, Minister of Justice Gideon Sa’ar stated that “a coalition member who does not support such a fundamental law is actively working for its dissolution. In a coalition, it is not only possible to receive, but there is also responsibility. This is not the way to run a country.”

News site J-Wire picks up that Sa’ar stated that the failure to pass this bill was a cause to end the partnership with the Arab parties, who voted against it. Likewise, MK Nir Orbach, of Bennett’s Yemina party, lashed out against the Arab MKs after the vote and declared that the “experiment” to maintain a shared coalition with the Arabs “has failed”.

Punishments by the coalition against the Arab MKs are expected, which will lead to counteractions and more animosity among the coalition members, J-Wire further adds. 

The coalition is now waiting to see if Sa’ar will carry through with his declaration to dissolve the coalition.

Bennett, in power for less than a year, has been facing some upheavals that have pushed analysts to estimate that it’s a question of time before the government falls. Some observe that it is a dysfunctional government and that a new date for an election is the way to go for Israel.

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