Legislative Initiatives to Promote Annexation
This document, published by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), reviews legislative initiatives in the 20th Knesset relating to the Occupied Territories. These initiatives of the Israeli parliament seek to promote the “legal annexation” of the West Bank and to undermine the legal foundation of the military regime that was applied to the area in June 1967.
Opponents of these legislative initiatives refer to this phenomenon as the “creeping annexation” or “accelerated annexation” of the Occupied Territories, while their supporters declare that they constitute “exercising sovereignty over parts of the Land of Israel (Eretz Yisrael).” These catchy slogans are inaccurate given the selective nature of this process. Those promoting this legislation do not seek to impose sovereignty and annexation in a manner that will officially extend the borders of the State of Israel and apply Israeli law throughout the West Bank, as was done decades ago in East Jerusalem. They have no intention of granting millions of Palestinians legal status and voting rights as required by the imposition of sovereignty. Neither do they plan to provide full and equal educational and welfare services throughout a single state extending from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.
Instead, the promoters of this initiative seek to institutionalize a discriminatory hybrid regime of annexation and occupation. This process includes, on the one hand, legislation by the Knesset expanding Israeli settlements and strengthening their affinity to the sovereign State of Israel; and on the other, the continuation of the Israeli military occupation regime over the Palestinian population as if nothing had changed. The new legislation ignores the prohibitions established in the international laws of occupation in an effort to expand the settlement enterprise and ensure the rights of the settlers, who vote for the Knesset and are represented in it. At the same time, they sweepingly deny the rights of the Palestinians, who do not vote for the Knesset, and who will continue to be subjected to military occupation. The promoters of these initiatives even go so far as to claim that the overall goal of their legislation is to promote equality, democracy, and human rights – provided that these values are directed solely at Israelis.
The legal initiatives described below constitute a new phenomenon within a familiar process that has continued for half a century. The establishment of the settlements was accompanied from the outset by the violation of international law and the creation of two separate and discriminatory legal systems for settlers and Palestinians. In the past, the role of the Knesset in this process was relatively marginal, but it has now become more central. Since the Knesset lies at the core of Israel’s democracy it is critical to consider this development.
Part One of this document describes the legislative initiatives relating to the West Bank promoted in the 20th Knesset, since it was sworn-in in March 2015. Part Two analyzes the damage these processes have caused to the principles of international law that underlie the laws of occupation – laws that were intended to provide protection for a population subject to foreign military rule. Part Three proposes steps that could help protect human rights in the reality created in the Occupied Territories. The Appendix presents a brief review of the developments that have created the current reality, from the first military orders published in June 1967 through to the report of the Levy Commission, presented to the previous government, which provided a legal cloak for endorsement of settlements.