Vote giving basic rights to Jews in Judea, Samaria could bring govt down

The Opposition is vowing to vote against an emergency bill that it essentially supports in order to break the coalition.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

An emergency bill allowing Jews in Judea and Samaria to live under Israeli civil law instead of military rule that must be renewed every five years may bring the government down Monday as there is currently no majority in the Knesset for it to pass.

Last Tuesday, Justice Minister Gideon Saar of the right-wing New Hope party threatened to collapse the coalition over the bill, which has been renewed every half decade since Israel liberated the region in the 1967 Six Day War.

“Next week there will be a test of whether the coalition wants to exist or does not want to exist,” he told Kan News. “This vote will see it.”

The Ra’am party is facing a rebellion within its ranks regarding the vote, especially as it immediately follows a confrontation at the Temple Mount Sunday between Israeli police and a senior religious figure in the Islamic Movement, which guides the faction.

The Islamist party, a member of the government coalition, condemned what it claimed were the “racist actions” of the police, who countered that the sheikh and two members of his family were disturbing the peace and attacked officers, even ripping one officer’s uniform.

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Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi of the ultra-left Meretz party is against the bill as well. Zoabi last month quit the coalition for a few days over what she said was its “harassment” of Arabs with its “hawkish stances” on issues such as the Ramadan clashes on the Temple Mount, “the settlement enterprise and the occupation.”

She returned after coming under immense political pressure and reportedly receiving certain concessions.

Rebel MK Idit Silman of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s right-wing Yamina party, who left the coalition in April, also reportedly intends to vote against the bill, as do the Opposition Likud and religious parties, even though ideologically they would naturally support it.

“We will do everything to topple this bad government,” Likud MK Keti Shitrit told World Israel News. “It’s not possible to be in the Opposition and be a rubber stamp for them when they send billions to the Islamic Movement.”

Shitrit added that the Likud could “always initiate such a bill of our own” instead of the government’s bill.

The bill allows Jews in the region to live under Israeli sovereignty regarding civil affairs. It includes, among other basics, the requirement to pay taxes and serve in the army while enjoying access to state health insurance and social security.

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David Elhayani, head of the Yesha Council and a member of New Hope, said that if the bill is not renewed, the consequences to the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria, which include a high percentage of right-wing voters, should make the Opposition think twice about voting against it.

If the law fails to pass, there will be “utter chaos,” he said. “Every day there will be a new story of someone who was harmed…

“The impact would be so dramatic that I can’t understand why people are playing politics with this.”

If the bill doesn’t pass Monday, it can be brought to the plenum again next week, unlike others that must wait six months if they fail their initial reading. This gives the coalition a tiny bit of breathing room, but the absolute deadline is July 1, when the law is set to expire.