Israeli bill to further annex the Occupied Territories passes first test

PNN / Bethlehem

An Israeli legislative committee on Sunday cleared the way for a new bill that would ease the process of annexation in the occupied territories of Area C by shifting jurisdiction over legal matters from the High Court to the Jerusalem District Court.

The bill’s sponsor, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, stated that the primary goal of the bill is ‘the de facto elimination of the Green Line in all matters relating to legal issues.’

Should the bill pass, petitions will still be able to be sent to the Israeli High Court, but they will not do so automatically.

Legal continuity between ‘sovereign’ Israel and the Occupied Territories would be insured should the bill pass its required 3 readings before the Knesset. Legal disputes in Area C would be normalized with those under the state of Israel, thereby annexing those territories as far as legal matters.

Shake claims that settlers face ‘discrimination’ during land cases presented to the High Court. Cases presented to the High Court, according to Shaked, favour the defendant and as such, a move to the District Courts would reverse this.

In an interview with the Times of Israel, Shaked claimed the High Court is ‘overly concerned with international law and with protecting the rights of the “occupied” population in Judea and Samaria.’

Shaked claims that the bill would also lessen the burden placed on the Israeli High Court.

Right-wing organizations appear to have welcomed the bill ahead of its hearings before the Knesset.

The Jerusalem Post reported that right-wing NGO Regavim said, ‘in the last years, the High Court of Justice has issued a long list of final rulings to destroy Jewish buildings and very few such judgments against illegal Arab building,’ and welcomed the deal.

They also reported opposition from left-wing NGO’s and members of the Knesset with MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) decrying that Shaked was “endangering democracy” by barrelling toward “judicial annexation” of the Occupied Territories “that blurs the Green Line.”

Human rights group Yesh Din rights group argued that the ‘whole purpose (of the bill) is to promote the annexation of the West Bank and to try to present the occupied territories as part of Israel.’

‘The decisions of the High Court are final and constitute a binding precedent for the authorities, in contrast to the decisions of the district court,’ said Yesh Din.