After election pledge, will Netanyahu back annexation bill?

Arutz Sheva speaks with newly-minted Likud MK Michal Shir about her bill to apply Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria.

Shimon Cohen,

MK Michal Shir
MK Michal Shir
Elad Gottman

Shortly after she was sworn in as a member of the Knesset, Michal Shir of the Likud submitted a bill in line with the decision of the Likud Central Committee to apply Israeli sovereignty to settlements in Judea and Samaria.

Arutz Sheva discussed the proposal and its chances of passing with Shir. "We're at the end of a very exciting day. I've been in the political system for twenty years and know the Knesset well. But the first time that those sworn in understand the weight of the responsibility on their shoulders, it's definitely exciting," says Shir. "That's why I felt that getting to work immediately was very important."

We asked Shir if she studied the strategical and political considerations that hampered the enactment of sovereignty in the past. "Simple logic says that there's no reason that the citizens of Judea and Samaria and the Jordan Valley will live as second-class citizens for one more minute," said Shir. "There's no reason that Holocaust survivors, women and children will not receive their rights, and that the educational system will not receive what's due to them despite fulfilling their obligations. The Income Tax Ordinance was quick to apply sovereignty there. It's not a matter of timing. It's the right thing to do right now."

"I'm not saying anything new. The prime minister repeated this before the elections, and we're on the eve of the Trump plan. If there's a good time from a humane, political, ideological and international viewpoint, it's right now. I see no reason why the proposal shouldn't pass, not only because the Likud Central Committee approved it a long time ago, but also because the prime minister said so and declared that he intends to act on this issue."

Shir is not willing to accept the interpretation that Netanyahu's words were merely an election statement and nothing more. "I don't accept that. The prime minister is a serious person who understands the political system and the weight of his every word. If he said those words and committed himself to it, I think it's my job as a faction member to facilitate the opportunity to pass this law and I expect it to pass as soon as possible."

We also asked Shir if before such a significant bill was raised, there was some sort of dialogue with the prime minister or with an office member, perhaps in order not to surprise him. "I spoke by phone with the prime minister, a brief but very warm and friendly conversation, and I very much appreciate him. I told him what I intended to do."

"Twenty-five years ago, when I was a young girl who joined the Likud youth, it was in the wake of the Oslo disaster and I felt it was my duty to do everything I could to ensure that he would be prime minister. I view applying sovereignty in Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley as a closing of a circle."

Shir is a resident of Tel Aviv, which is not known for its particularly right-wing positions, but she says that when the issue of human rights comes up, people understand. "I'm a secular, mainstream Tel Aviv girl, and when I talk to my friends from the center-right and left, it turns out that there's no awareness at all in the Israeli public. It sounds like an extremist right-wing issue, but suddenly they get the message that a pregnant woman can be fired because she lives in Ariel and not in Tel Aviv, or that a Holocaust survivor didn't receive his rights because he lives in Ma'aleh Adumim. They don't understand how it's possible."

"When you convey a message to the Israeli public in a language that it understands and offer the information, you receive support. They suddenly get it. Our main work is with this population, which holds center-right and center-left positions. If you speak logically, they understand."

Since her proposed law focuses on settlements and access roads, the question arises about the remaining areas. "In the political system, I realized that you have to grab what you can. This is a bill that is highly likely to pass, and immediately afterward we'll bring additional proposals. It's a process."

"I prefer to be smart and take a first step and not to be right and to remain so only on paper, like what happened in previous terms. The process of legislation depends on the political probability and on what is being communicated to the Israeli mainstream. It's much easier to explain this to the public on the level of civil rights. We'll go through stage A and get to stage B and hopefully we'll complete the process properly."