Israel’s parliament passed a bill in the first reading on Monday night to further extend the extension of “emergency orders” for settlers in the occupied West Bank.
The bill revamps regulations that allow the Israeli government to impose criminal law and certain key civil laws — such as income tax and health insurance — on the 475,000 Israeli settlers living in the West Bank.
The law, originally enacted in the aftermath of the 1967 Six-Day War and last extended in 2017, remains a so-called “emergency measure” that must be renewed every five years.
It is the first bill to be put to the vote by the new government, the most right-wing in Israel’s history, since its installation on December 29 under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “We have come back to believing in our right to the entire land of Israel and are once again strengthening the Jewish settlements in the West Bank,” Netanyahu said.
The West Bank, home to more than 2.9 million Palestinians, is governed by Israeli military law. The law was due to be extended on June 30. Still, two MPs from the former governing coalition made up of right, centre, and left parties and an Arab party voted against, contributing to the split of the government led by centrist Yair Lapid and its fall. The opposition, then led by Netanyahu and composed of pro-settler parties, announced it would vote against the project simply to show its opposition to the government.
The Israeli government has already announced its intention to proceed with settlements in the occupied territories, which the UN has condemned as illegal under international law.
Fifty-eight deputies voted in favour of the bill on “emergency measures in Judea-Samaria” (the name Israel has given the West Bank), and thirteen were against it. The text has yet to be adopted in the second and third readings.