Shaked move towards 'settlements annex'


Ayelet Shaked, Israel's Justice Minister, has said that she is working to apply full Israeli civil law to West Bank settlements within a year.

Ms Shaked's party, Jewish Home, wants parts of the West Bank to become sovereign Israeli territory, and her plan is widely being seen as a step towards this end.

The Israeli left is furious, and Zehava Gal-On, chairwoman of the left-wing Meretz party, has said that Ms Shaked's plan could turn Israel into a "leper" internationally.

Ms Shaked told delegates at a pro-settler conference in Jerusalem: "My aim is that, one year from now, every law passed in the Knesset will automatically be translated... to apply to Judea and Samaria."

She did not detail the legal process that she plans to use to achieve her aim, but it is clear that, if it involves legislation, as expected, she will face heavy opposition from inside the government and inside her ministry.

Her plan would not have an impact on day-to-day life in settlements - but it carries great symbolic importance for both right and left.

Daily life on settlements is mostly guided by the same laws as in Tel Aviv and other Israeli cities. The difference is that, on settlements, Israeli civil laws take force only when the military commanders who run the West Bank impose them.

This distinction will remain under Ms Shaked's plan. However, her proposal would force commanders to apply every Knesset law, and not most, as is currently the case.

On the right, activists are applauding the move.

It is a "first step and a blessed step" towards the annexation and application of Israeli sovereignty in the West Bank according to Nadia Matar, leader of the pro-annexation group Women in Green.

On the left, former justice minister and current opposition MK Tzipi Livni warned that Ms Shaked was starting an annexation process that could lead to the "collapse of the two-state idea" and force Israel to give Knesset votes to 2.5 million Palestinians.

● The Israeli Communications Ministry is advancing a NIS 40 million plan to improve mobile phone reception in the West Bank, but the army opposes it, saying it does not need civilian networks to improve its reception in the territories.

The state plans to build some 40 towers and connect them to the mobile network.

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