Justice Minister: 'We're not in Judea & Samaria to disappear one day. We've been here for 50 years and we'll be here another 5,000 years.'
The Knesset House Committee today discussed the interaction between the Knesset and Israeli citizens in Judea and Samaria, against the background of Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked's directive that any new government legislation would require reference to Judea and Samaria.
Knesset members who tried to interfere with the discussion were removed from the committee hall, among them Michal Rozin and Issawi Freij of Meretz, and Oren Hazan of the Likud.
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked told the committee that "Last May, along with Minister Yariv Levin, I sent a letter to all members of the Ministerial Legislation Committee, which explained that we intend to arrange a new working procedure regarding government bills.
"According to the procedure we seek to establish - before we discuss a government bill on its merits - we want to understand what the relevant ministry intends to apply to Judea and Samaria residents," Shaked said.
According to her, such a procedure can not take place without a governmental body incorporated in the relevant activity. "I have therefore decided on a mini-reorganization in my office. The Judea and Samaria area has moved from the administrative department to the public-constitutional department under the direction of Deputy Attorney General Raz Nizri. Within this department we have established a new unit that is responsible, among other things, for the subject of legislative equality in Judea and Samaria."
Shaked noted that the new appointed head of the unit was attorney Avinoam Segal, who brings with him a great deal of knowledge and experience, and since the beginning of December this subject has been under his responsibility.
"We are not in Judea and Samaria to disappear one day. We've been here for 50 years and we'll be here for another 5,000 years," emphasized the Justice Minister.
Tourism Minister Yariv Levin (Likud) said at the meeting that the inequality between Judea and Samaria residents and those of the rest of the country "cries out unto the heavens." "Until the necessary condition of applying our sovereignty over all parts of the Land of Israel is settled, we must rectify this absurdity.
"When the IDF wants to evacuate a house that exceeds zoning regulations by one meter, there are forces available and laws are carried out. But for decades they haven't been able to provide the necessary manpower to fulfill the basic legal obligation to apply laws to Judea and Samaria," Levin said.
"It's no secret that I believe the day will come when we won't need to discuss this matter because the right thing to do is to apply our sovereignty over all of the Land of Israel, including territories east of the Jordan. Until this required situation is resolved, everything must be done to reduce the gap and the existing anomaly," he explained.
According to him, any law that is passed should be applied automatically to Judea and Samaria, unless there is a special reason that requires qualification. "That's how equality between those who live there and those who live in the rest of the Land of Israel should be.That's how we should also arrange an infrastructure for the day when the situation will be arranged as I said before - the application of sovereignty.
"The current situation is one that I think the opposition can't accept. Equality and civil rights are important to all, they have no dividing line."
Minister Levin added, "I appeal to the Legal Advisor of Judea and Samaria and to the Deputy Attorney General - how do you sleep at night? The appointed systems don't do their jobs and you live with it in peace? The IDF must end this without delay; just as we act quickly and find mechanisms for evacuating a house that exceeds zoning by one meter, so must we act quickly to implement the law."
Deputy Defense Minister Rabbi Eli Ben Dahan told the House Committee: "I'm sorry to disappoint the leftists sitting here, but the residents of Judea and Samaria are here to stay forever."
As part of his job, the Deputy Minister is responsible for determining the Legal Advisor for Judea and Samaria's working priorities on the subject of balancing legislation that applies in the State of Israel as a whole but not in Judea and Samaria. "We've drafted laws that should be applied to Judea and Samaria, almost 70 percent of which deal with planning and construction. In the coming year we'll advance more and more laws and apply them to Judea and Samaria."
In addition, Deputy Minister Ben Dahan revealed that in the past year he has been negotiating with the Finance Ministry to increase Civil Administration manpower: "I'm conducting a dialogue with the Finance Ministry to add to the Civil Administration's rules so that can take care of Jewish settlement, which has grown fivefold since the Oslo Accords, while in inverse ratio, the number of personnel has decreased to less than half.
"Leftist organizations exhaust the system in the Supreme Court, and the Judea and Samaria Legal Advisor is forced to contend with over 500 Supreme Court cases by Arabs and extreme leftist organizations. Therefore, the Legal Advisor is dealing with a manpower shortage, in addition to the process of comparing legislation that requires yet additional manpower."
Rabbi Ben Dahan concluded by saying, "Just as obligations are imposed on the residents of Judea and Samaria, so it is our job to ensure that they are granted rights as well."
Chairman of the Knesset House Committee MK Yoav Kish (Likud) said "many laws have been legislated to this day without a clear definition of how they will be implemented - by primary legislation or by general order. We won't allow this situation anymore. This decision will lead to a change in attitude towards Judea and Samaria residents, and thus a new situation will begin which will put an end to the discrimination against them."