“Judges and officers shalt thou make thee in all thy gates, which the LORD thy God giveth thee, tribe by tribe; and they shall judge the people with righteous judgment.” Deuteronomy 16:18 (The Israel Bible™)
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home Party) has announced that she will work to bring Israeli law to bear over Judea and Samaria within a year. Speaking to Army Radio Monday, she confirmed the goal she set out Sunday night in a speech.
“Within a year, we want to have in place a system whereby any law that is in effect in Israel proper will be in effect in Judea and Samaria as well,” she was cited in Hamodia as saying. Currently, since the Judea and Samaria region has not been legally annexed since it was liberated in the 1967 Six Day War, it is governed by military law.
Judea and Samaria are the Biblical heartland of Israel. It is there that the Northern Kingdom established its seat of power. The region fell under Jordanian control following the Israeli War of Independence in 1948, but was recaptured by Israel in 1967. It has remained in legal limbo since that time, with subsequent Israeli governments offering to negotiate the establishment of a Palestinian state on most, if not all, of the territory while simultaneously offering incentives to Israelis to live there.
The Oslo Accords divided Judea and Samaria into three areas: Area A, over which the Palestinian Authority (PA) maintains complete civil and security control, Area B, which the PA administers civilly while sharing security responsibilities with Israel, and Area C, under complete Israeli control. However, military rule continues to take precedence over Israeli law, meaning some Israeli citizens are denied rights that should otherwise be guaranteed. At the same time, Palestinians living in Area C flaunt certain Israeli laws in the region, such as building permits, waste removal and speed limits, knowing they cannot be prosecuted.
Addressing the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel Sunday night, Shaked said that in her capacity as Justice Minister, she intended to right this wrong. She committed to “dedicating resources to ensure that the legislative process will be equal for all people. Until now this process has been slow and frustrating, and many of the most basic and necessary laws, such as those relating to the quality of the environment and labor issuesת have not included residents of Judea and Samaria. I intend to change this within a year.”
This is not a new idea; however, former Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein opposed the move. Current AG Avichai Mandelblit has yet to offer his legal opinion on the matter, but Shaked is confident her proposal, which will apply Israeli law to Israelis regardless of where they reside, will withstand the scrutiny of the High Court, where it is expected to be challenged.
Not everyone is enamored with Shaked’s proposal. Meretz party leader Zehava Gal-On told Army Radio the move is a “runaround of international law, to provide settlers with the benefits of Israeli law.
“In effect,” she added, since Palestinians in Area C — who are not Israeli citizens but rather subject to the PA — will not benefit from the rights established for Israelis by the law, but they would become punishable for offenses, “[Shaked] will be institutionalizing racism.”