Knesset Laws Committee Debates Ma’aleh Adumim Annexation Plan

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Knesset Laws Committee Debates Ma’aleh Adumim Annexation Plan

Written by Ilana Messika/TPS on January 02, 2017

A hearing by the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee Monday quickly disintegrated into a shouting match between right- and left-wing Knesset members as the committee discussed plans by the Jewish Home faction to table a bill to annex the city of Ma’aleh Adumim, east of Jerusalem, originally initiated by Jewish Home MK Yoav Kish and Likud MK Yoav Kish.

In a session that sounded more like a street brawl than a parliamentary debate, Education Minister and Jewish Home Chairman Naftali Bennett cited former Prime Minister Menachem Begin, saying Jerusalem has the right to apply  Israeli law to the city “not because of some sort of military ‘might makes right,’ but rather because of the power of the justice of our cause. Bennett said the party would present the proposal on January 20, to coincide with the inauguration of incoming US President Donald Trump.

Speaking on behalf of the proposal, lawmakers and non-governmental organizations said that Israeli residents of Judea and Samaria currently suffer discrimination, compared to Israelis that live within the 1948 borders. Deputy Minister of Defense Eli Ben-Dahan said the “intolerable legal differences” between “little Israel” and Judea and Samaria include regulations governing the relationship between foster families and biological parents, as well as laws governing building permits and municipal planning.

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“Life in Judea and Samaria cannot continue to function as it does today. The gap is huge. Taxes and duties are imposed such as service in the army and as reservists, but we do not give them rights,” said Ben-Dahan.

“We will apply Israeli legislation onto Ma’ale Adumim and we will apply Israeli sovereignty. Not by the power of military strength but by the power of moral justice,” said MK Yoav Kish (Likud).

Tomer Israel, representing the Legal Forum for Israel, told the committee that because Israeli law does not currently apply to Judea and Samaria cities, the Civil Administration legal department must analyze every Israeli law individually and decide if and how to apply it to Judea and Samaria communities. That process, he said, is time-consuming and often does not happen at all.

“For example: A law took effect yesterday regulating the use of plastic bags in supermarkets around Israel,” Israel said. “Does it apply in Ma’aleh Adumim? What about Israeli regulations about asbestos? What about requirements to sell prescription drugs in their original packaging? The answer to all of these is no, they do not apply in Judea and Samaria,” Israel noted.

MK Michal Rozin (Meretz) severely criticized the proposal, saying Ma’ale Adumim is only the tip of the iceberg in a much grander enterprise aimed at applying Israeli sovereignty to all of Judea and Samaria. She said that, in turn, would lead to Israel’s further isolation from the international community.

“The Legalization Bill led to Security Council Resolution 2334, you are effectively isolating us and waiting for Putin and Trump. You are all in essence declaring war against the Palestinians and the international community,” Rozin said.

“Contrary to what you always say about the left, you will bring upon us financial boycotts and sanctions …the prime minister lied and cheated the Israeli public when he said he was committed to the two-state solution.”

However, not all left-wing criticism of the plan was based on opposition to Israeli settlement in Judea and Samaria. Revital Sweid (Zionist Camp) fumed that the right-wing does not enjoy a monopoly on Zionism and called on the Jewish Home faction to shelve the proposal, not because Ma’aleh Adumim should not be recognized as part of Israel, but especially because it should.

“There is no situation, in any script, that does not envision Ma’aleh Adumim as a permanent part of Israel,” Sweid said. “This irresponsible session serves only to separate the issue of Ma’aleh Adumim from other settlement blocs and to weaken them. What about Gush Etzion? What about Ariel?”

Sweid also said the current government has had “zero” accomplishments in terms of foreign policy, and said the government should focus on setting a clearly articulated foreign policy instead of on poking the United States in the eye.

With Additional Reporting from Andrew Friedman

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