Friday April 25th 2014

Gov’t to Discuss Bill for Annexation of Heartland Communities

by Eitam Abadi

The Ministerial Law Committee is expected to discuss legislation on Sunday to apply Israeli sovereignty over Jewish communities in the disputed Samaria, Binyamin and Judea regions.

According to the bill, initiated by Member of Knesset Miri Regev (Likud), restrictions on construction in Jewish towns and villages shall be imposed only with Knesset approval, Israel Radio reported.

Members of Knesset Yaakov Katz (National Union) and Zevulun Orlev (Jewish Home) are also expected to file similar proposals this week for a preliminary reading.

The territories in question, conquered from Israel by Jordan during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and won back by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War, comprise the Jewish people’s historic heartland.

Israel has until now refrained from officially annexing the the territories due to strong opposition from the United States, and other Western powers, who have since 1967 demanded Israel relinquish the land. Washington had originally pushed for Israel to surrender the land to Jordan but has in recent decades switched tactics to demand Israel give the land to the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority.

As a result of foreign pressure, the territories have until now remained under Israeli military rule without full legal sovereignty being applied.

MK Regev’s bill, if enacted into law, would require the government to apply full Israeli law to all Jewish communities in Samaria, Binyamin and Judea while not affecting Palestinian communities within the territories.

“The position of the Likud government has been that in any future Palestinian Authority-Israeli agreement, the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria will be under Israeli sovereignty,” Regev said Sunday morning.

“Now that the Palestinian Authority has declared its intention of unilateral independence, Israel should immediately declare sovereignty.”

Political analysts expect the committee to reject Regev’s bill.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu (Likud) is unlikely to start out his new 94-member national unity coalition by creating a confrontation with Kadima lawmakers who would oppose the bill out of loyalty to American interests in the Middle East.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak (Atzmaut), similarly viewed as loyal to Washington’s regional agenda, would likely also oppose the legislation, which would not only anger his American patrons but also strip his authority to block ethnic Jews from building and entering homes without his personal approval.

Even if there were solid backing for the bill, however, analysts doubt Netanyahu would risk a confrontation with US President Barack Obama, who has pledged funding to Israel for new Iron Dome anti-rocket systems.

President Obama, like his predecessors in Washington, is adamantly opposed to the presence of ethnic Jews in Israel’s heartland and has even labeled Jewish neighborhoods in most of Jerusalem as “settlements” and illegitimate.