Rivlin Hosts Religious Zionists Rabbis at Knesset
Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin on Monday hosted four senior religious Zionist rabbis who came to the Knesset in order to lobby for legislation that would legalize threatened Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria (Yehudah and Shomron).
Israel Prize Laureate Rabbi Haim Druckman, Rabbi Zalman Melamed, Rabbi Zephaniah Drori, and Rabbi Chaim Steiner met with Rivlin, Transport Minister Israel Katz, and Deputy Minister Ayoub Kara to ask them to expedite the proposed legislation.
Rivlin told the rabbis the issue was very complex, both legally and politically, and that the government would not formally support the legislation. Instead, he said, that the Knesset would deal with it directly in the plenum, but agreed to press Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to allow ministers to vote their conscience on the matter.
Katz told the rabbis that Defense Minister Ehud Barak and legal advisers to Netanyahu believe, should the legislation pass, that the issue could reach the International Court of Justice at the Hague.
"I think there should be freedom of voting ministers on this issue," Katz said, concurring with Rivlin. "I will push Netanyahu to give us the freedom to vote, and of course, I will vote for it."
Rabbi Zalman Melamed asked the ministers, "What kind of Knesset do we have, in which thirty ministers cannot express their opinion? Where are the people represented?"
Critics of Barak and Netanyahu's legal advisors note that their concerns run contrary not only to the Israeli government's position on the authority of the Hague in the 'disputed territories,' but also to the opinion of the Hague itself.
In April, the chief prosecutor at the Hague concluded the Palestinian Authority, which is not a nation state and is not a party to the Hague conventions, has no standing at the International Court of Justice.
"Israel made it clear from the beginning that the ICC had no jurisdiction to hear such complaints and welcomes the prosecutor’s decision to that effect,” the Foreign Ministry responded at the time.
ICC authority is derived from the Rome Statute. In 2002, both the United States and Israel, "unsigned" the Rome Statute, indicating that they no longer intend to become states parties and, as such, they have no legal obligations arising from their signature of the statute.
Israel sees the powers given to the prosecutor as excessive and the geographical appointment of judges as disadvantaging Israel, which is prevented from joining any of the UN Regional Groups.