Beginning of annexation? 'Norms' law gains support

Support grows for proposal to apply Israeli law in Judea and Samaria. Minister denies proposal would constitute annexation.

David Rosenberg ,

Standing guard in Judea-Samaria (illustration)
Standing guard in Judea-Samaria (illustration)
Nati Shohat/Flash90

A proposal by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home) to apply Israeli law on citizens living in Judea and Samaria appears to be gaining momentum.

If passed, the “Norms bill” would place Israeli citizens living beyond the Green Line under Israeli law, ending the army’s authority over citizens residing in the area.

Currently, Israelis living in Judea and Samaria are under the authority of the army’s GOC Southern Command. Laws passed by the Knesset do not apply past the Green Line, but are instead enacted by the IDF, though not all Israeli laws are adopted by the GOC.

Shaked, who says the bill will equalize the legal system for all Israelis, hopes to implement the plan within a year.

A similar proposal was pushed by Likud and Jewish Home MKs in the past, but was blocked by Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein and then-Justice Minister Tzipi Livni.

The current bill, however, may be on its way to passing. On Monday NRG reported that Danny Efroni, the recently retired Chief Military Advocate General, had endorsed the plan in a letter to Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit.

The five-page document appears to be part of a larger effort to win Mandelblit’s support – or at least prevent a repeat of his predecessor's open opposition to the bill.

A number of Likud MKs have expressed their support for the proposal, including Tourism Minister Yariv Levin, Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan, and Minister of Immigration Ze'ev Elkin.

While some have argued that the move effectively constitutes annexation, Elkin denied such claims.

“This isn’t annexation. Even though personally I think we should begin a staged annexation of parts of Judea and Samaria, that has nothing to do with the ‘Norms bill’; this is about the rights of citizens.”

Elkin noted that the proposal would simply extend the government’s obligations to its citizens regardless of where they were located, but would not apply Israeli law in toto to the territory itself.

“Some of the laws will be applied to the Palestinians, like the regulations regarding women in the work place. But just as the state’s obligations to citizens don’t apply to them, its logical that [laws regarding] such rights not be applied.”

MK Zehava Gal-On, however, has insisted that the proposal is a clear attempt to effect "de facto annexation".

Former Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who had opposed the previous "Norms bill" blasted the new proposal, claiming it was the first step towards full annexation of Judea and Samaria.

“The right-wing government is quietly beginning the process of annexation in order to impose its ideology. The final result will be the collapse of the two-state idea, the imposition of two legal systems in one state, mass international pressure, and in the end, 2.5 million Palestinians with the right to vote for the Knesset.”