Likud’s top body approves resolution to assert sovereignty over parts of West Bank

JERUSALEM (JTA) – The Central Committee of the Likud Party voted unanimously to approve a resolution that calls on party leaders to exercise civilian law over parts of the West Bank.

The vote by more than 1,000 members of the 3,000-member committee was held Sunday evening at Airport City in central Israel. While the vote is non-binding, it is considered important by Likud politicians, who need the support of the powerful committee to be considered for Knesset spots in future elections.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the head of the Likud Party, did not attend the meeting.

Applying civilian law could make it easier to approve new construction in Jewish settlements. The settlements are under military jurisdiction, with such construction requests subject to the approval of the defense minister. Settlers are subject to Israeli civilian law, however.

“Fifty years after the liberation of Judea and Samaria, and with them Jerusalem, our eternal capital, the Likud Central Committee calls on Likud’s elected leaders to work to allow unhindered construction and to extend Israeli law and sovereignty in all the areas of liberated settlement in Judea and Samaria,” the resolution states, referring to the biblical names for the territory of the West Bank.

The proposal does not call for annexation of the West Bank, which would place Palestinians under Israel’s jurisdiction, but rather only applies to Jews living there.

The meeting was held after a request signed by 900 Central Committee members was submitted to the party, according to the Jerusalem Post. A resolution request that receives support from over 20 per cent of the Central Committee’s members requires it to meet within 30 days. The signatures were collected in May, and the meeting was delayed.

In 2002, the Likud Central Committee passed a resolution opposing the establishment of a Palestinian state. Netanyahu publicly broke with that resolution when he supported the idea of a Palestinian state in his 2009 Bar Ilan University speech, which called for a two-state solution.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas accused the United States of being complicit in Sunday’s vote, telling the official WAFA Palestinian news agency that the approval “could not be taken without the full support of the U.S. administration, who have refused to condemn Israeli colonial settlements as well as the systematic attacks and crimes of the Israeli occupation against the people of Palestine.”

“We shall make important decisions during 2018, including regarding legal venues, in order to hold Israel accountable for its grave and systematic violations of international law, and to revisit agreements signed with Israel,” Abbas said in a statement.

Hamas called the vote to approve the resolution “an escalation,” in a post on its Twitter feed.

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