Israel’s justice minister aiming to bring civil law to West Bank Jews, keep Palestinians under military rule

Israeli Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked at the first meeting of the Israeli Judicial Selection Committee at the Ministry of Justice in Jerusalem on August 9, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90)

Israeli Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked at the first meeting of the Israeli Judicial Selection Committee at the Ministry of Justice in Jerusalem on August 9, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90)

JERUSALEM (JTA) – Israel’s justice minister said she would resurrect a legal initiative to bring Israeli civil law to Jewish settlements in the West Bank while keeping the Palestinians who live there under military orders.

Ayelet Shaked, of the right-wing Jewish Home party, made the remarks on Sunday evening during a speech to the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel, a right-wing organization.

Israeli civil law officially does not apply to Jews living in the West Bank, though it is usually applied by the military and court rulings.

“As justice minister, I’m giving this matter priority and will dedicate resources to it so that we will have a genuinely equal legislative process,” she told the forum.

On Monday, Shaked told Army Radio that West Bank Jewish residents are discriminated against since they live under military law, unlike the rest of Israel’s citizens. Among the reasons for extending civil law to the West Bank, she said, are bettering maternity leave conditions and the lack of enforcement of environmental protection laws. She also said the laws would apply to Palestinian workers employed by Israeli businesses in the West Bank, but not other Palestinian residents of the West Bank.

Legislation to put Jewish Israelis under Israeli civil law in the West Bank was first introduced in 2014. It is considered another movement of Israel toward annexing the West Bank.

Shaked argued on Monday that such legislation would not change the status of the settlements or violate international law.

Former justice minister Tzipi Livni, of the centre-left Zionist Union party, said the legislation would mark the end of the possibility of a two-state solution.

“The right-wing government is quietly beginning the process of annexation in order to impose its ideology there,” she said in a statement to Israeli news outlets. “The end result of this is the collapse of the idea of having two states, the beginning of two completely different legal systems in one country, enormous damage to Israel’s image internationally and, ultimately, 2.5 million Palestinians with the right to vote and a Knesset majority.”

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