Coalition Weighing Delaying Knesset Vote for Settlement Bill

The settlement bill that is scheduled for voting in the Knesset on Monday could be withdrawn by the coalition. The legislation had first been implemented in 1967 in Israel as an ‘emergency measure’ after the Six Days War and has been renewed after every five years since then. It will expire by the end of the month. Its purpose is to ensure that Israeli settlers in the West Bank are subjected to Israeli civil and criminal law, rather than the military law applicable to Palestinians. The current government has been facing a tough battle when it comes to renewing the said bill.

MK IditSilman, who belongs to the Yamina party of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, had quit the coalition and stripped it off its majority in the Knesset. Now, the rebel lawmaker informed coalition leaders that she would not vote in favor of the legislation. Likewise, by Sunday evening, it will unclear as to whether the Islamist Ra’am party, which is also part of the coalition, would support the bill or not. The party officials were scheduled to meet for coming to a decision. Media reports indicated that coalition officials were thinking about putting pressure on Ra’am and Silman by declaring a motion of no-confidence for the vote.

If Silman still opposes the bill, she would be termed a defector. Reports also indicated that the opposition was putting pressure on Ra’am MK MazenGanaim to go against the bill. The approval for this legislation has become yet another challenge for a government that is already struggling. In recent weeks, it has been struggling to keep all the parties and MKs together in the coalition. There have been numerous tiffs over security tensions as well as policy positions that have brought the government close to a collapse. A vote on this settlement bill was already postponed last week by Gideon Sa’ar.

The Justice Minister had done so because the coalition lacked the majority required for getting it approved. The opposition has refused to offer its support for any legislation that is brought forward by the current government because they want to bring it down. The Population Authority said on Sunday that identity cards will not be given to Israeli settlers in the West Bank and neither will they be able to report their address if the law is not renewed. This would prevent these people from exercising their rights.

Sa’ar is the leader of the New Hope party, which is in favor of settlements. He has warned that not passing the bill would be dangerous for the survival of the government. He also stated that the settlers would be subjected to military laws instead of Israeli ones, which has never occurred before. Last week, he said that this would lead to chaos in the West Bank and would not only harm the territory’s connection, but harm Israelis living there. Sa’ar had gone as far as criticizing Benjamin Netanyahu, the leader of the opposition, for refusing to support the bill for his personal benefit.

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