With the help of the Joint List, the “Judea and Samaria Law” failed to pass a vote in the Knesset plenum late Monday night. The bill presented by far-right New Hope Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar and supported by Labor, Meretz and Ra’am parties, fell in a vote of 58 to 52. Ahead of the vote, Sa’ar declared it the vote that would decide the fate of the coalition based on how their members voted. Failure of the bill led to immediate speculation that the government will soon fall and Israel will head to a new election.
Joint List chairman MK Ayman Odeh (Hadash) and faction colleagues broke into applause after the coalition failed to pass an “emergency bill” giving Israel legal jurisdiction over Israeli settlers living in the occupied West Bank (Photo: Knesset)
In a critical blow to Prime Minister Naftali Bennet’s government, the coalition failed to pass an “emergency bill” giving Israel legal jurisdiction over Israeli settlers living in the occupied West Bank that has been approved every five years since 1967. Upon hearing the results, Joint List chairman MK Ayman Odeh (Hadash) and faction colleagues broke into applause.
Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi (Meretz) and Mazen Ghanaim (Ra’am) voted against the bill and other Islamist Ra’am party MKs and former coalition head Idit Silman absented themselves from the vote. Without their support, it was impossible to pass the bill, which must be reapproved by the end of June.
The bill, an “apartheid law” according MK Odeh, would renew a measure extending Israeli criminal law and certain key civil laws — such as income tax and health insurance — to settlers in occupied Palestinian territories. Though Israel has not formally annexed the West Bank, the measure ensures that settlers living there are treated as though they live in Israel in most matters, without extending those same legal protections to Palestinians. Originally enacted in the aftermath of the 1967 Six Day War, the law remains an “emergency measure” that must be renewed every five years. Last passed in 2017, it is set to expire at the end of June.