Judea and Samaria law must be renewed or coalition falls – MK’s ultimatum

The law enables Israeli citizens living in Judea and Samaria to receive the same benefits, such as social security, as those living in pre-1967 Israeli territory, and to be prosecuted in Israeli criminal courts.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar of the right-wing New Hope party said that a 1967 law applying Israeli rule to Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria must be renewed; otherwise, the fragile coalition government will collapse.

Sa’ar, who was a longtime member of former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud before breaking away to create his own party in December 2020, issued the ultimatum on Tuesday.

The measure, which was first introduced in 1967 and is required to be renewed by the Knesset every five years, is critical for maintaining Israeli sovereignty over Judea and Samaria.

Because the bill did not garner enough support from the governing coalition due to the opposition of the far-left Meretz party and Islamist Ra’am party, the vote was postponed until next week.

Speaking to Kan radio, Sa’ar said the upcoming vote on the measure “will be a test, whether this coalition wants to exist or does not want to exist.”

He explained that the bill enables Israeli citizens living in Judea and Samaria to receive the same benefits, such as social security, as those living in pre-1967 Israeli territory, and to be prosecuted in Israeli criminal courts.

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If the bill does not pass, Sa’ar warned, “it will create chaos for justice matters. It will harm the territory’s connection to Israel and Israeli law and will harm some 500,000 Israelis living in Judea and Samaria.”

For example, the bill’s failure to pass would mean that Israeli law would no longer apply to Israeli residents of the region and could effectively turn “the communities in Judea and Samaria into sanctuary cities for Israeli criminals.”

Although they are ideologically in favor of the law, the Knesset’s opposition parties, including the Likud, have pledged to vote against the law in order to embarrass the coalition.

That decision was harshly criticized by Sa’ar, who accused the opposition of playing an “unprecedented, dangerous” game.

Coalition parties opposed to the law should put their ideological differences to the side for the sake of the survival of the government, Sa’ar said.

“The government has an obligation to pass routine legal arrangements like this bill. I made that clear to the heads of the parties,” he added.

“A coalition member who opposes the bill is saying, ‘I don’t want this government to continue.'”