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Bill giving illegal settlers full rights as citizens passes first reading in Israel

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Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, passed an extension last night of the emergency regulations that impose Israeli law on settlements in the occupied West Bank and give settlers full rights as citizens of the occupation state. The bill was supported by 58 Knesset members from the coalition and the opposition, with 13 MKs voting against, and was referred to the parliamentary Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee to prepare it for its second and third readings.

The Bennett-Lapid government failed to pass this law last year due to defections and the refusal of the opposition at the time, headed by current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to support the law. Netanyahu’s intention was to embarrass the then government.

In the latest effort, two opposition parties, Yesh Atid led by Yair Lapid, and the National Camp, led by Benny Gantz, supported the extension. Arab MKs and the Labour Party, which supported the racist bill last year, opposed it.

Israeli media quoted sources in the Labour Party today as saying that the party voted against the bill because, “Unlike previous governments, which understood that this was a temporary arrangement on the way to a political solution, given the composition of the current government, where the Civil Administration is subordinated to [Finance Minister Bezalel] Smotrich’s control, these are regulations for annexation that are opposed to Zionism.”

The Minister of Justice, Yariv Levin, said when introducing the bill: “The vote highlights the difference with the previous government, which relied on the support of at least one party that wanted to harm the settlement enterprise. Things are different with this government; we have restored our belief that we have the right to the whole of the Land of Israel, and we will strengthen the settlements once more.”

Gideon Sa’ar MK (National Unity) said that, “The opposition erred in June when it acted against the national interest and overthrew this bill… We are an opposition to the government, but not in opposition to the state and its vital interests.”

This apartheid bill is known officially as the “Emergency Regulations (Judea and Samaria—Adjudication of Offences and Legal Assistance)” in reference to the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967. It seeks to determine the relationship between illegal Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank as Israeli citizens living outside of Israel, and Israel’s government institutions. Israel, of course, has never declared where its borders are; such ambiguity helps its colonisation of occupied Palestine.

The law will grant powers to Israeli courts to try settlers who commit crimes in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. It also allows the Israeli occupation authorities to impose sanctions on Palestinians in the territories occupied since 1967 and to arrest them. Once arrested, Palestinians will also be imprisoned within Israel in a clear breach of international law which has been happening on the ground for many years. Palestinians living under occupation already face being tried in military courts.

Source: Middle East Monitor


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