Coalition Pulls Bill Applicable to Shelters due to Lack of Votes

Hours before a bill was scheduled for its first vote on Monday, the coalition decided to shelve it because the opposition parties stated that they would not support any legislation put forward by the government. The bill was aimed at renewing the application of civil and criminal law in Israel to people living in the West Bank. A statement from the spokesperson of Gideon Sa’ar, the Justice Minister, said that the vote had been pushed forward by a week at the request of Yair Lapid, the Foreign Minister, and the Prime Minister Naftali Bennett himself.

The purpose of pushing it back was to make maximum efforts for ensuring the law is passed. The law had originally been implemented after the 1967 Day War and its renewal is required after every five years. It is considered an ‘emergency measure’, which will expire in June after it was last renewed in 2017. As the West Bank has not been annexed by Israel, the residents living there comply with the military law of the Israel Defense Forces. As per the measure, Israelis who reside in the West Bank have to comply with the criminal law of Israel and some key areas of civil law, such as health insurance and income tax.

The goal is to ensure that the people are treated as if they are living in Israel, without applying the laws to Palestinians who also reside in the same area. Out of the 120 seats in the Knesset, the coalition and the opposition both have 60 seats each. Different parties make up the coalition from all over the political spectrum, such as the Islamist Ra’am party. Previously, the Ra’am party had shown its support for a number of contentious measures, but they have become more cautious after returning from a temporary freeze from its membership of the coalition.

As far as the recent bill is concerned, Ra’am has remained tight-lipped about whether they will support the bill or not. Last week, they skirted a similar tight spot rather elegantly when the coalition and the Likud-party of the opposition reached a compromise about passing a bill aimed at funding scholarships for IDF soldiers who have been released. The party abstained. But, in the case of this West Bank law, the coalition will not get any support from the right-religious bloc of the opposition that holds 54 seats. They had announced earlier on Monday that even though they are in favor of the law ideologically, they would not provide a legislative lifeline to the coalition.

The Joint List party, which is part of the opposition, is also going to vote against the measure, as it represents Arab Israelis. Speaking at a meeting of his New Hope party, the Justice Minister said on Monday that they had to pass the law. Sa’ar highlighted the legal consequences if the law expires; they would not be able to prosecute Israelis for any criminal offenses that are committed in the West Bank and police would not have the authority to make arrests.

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