With emergency regulations that enable typical citizenship services and benefits for Israelis living in the West Bank set to lapse on July 1, one would assume that residents of the area are panicking.
But several of the people that ALL ISRAEL NEWS spoke with during a tour of the region on Sunday brushed off the vote as a minor inconvenience that will be resolved sooner rather than later.
“It’s nonsense,” said Boaz Haetzni, a guide who leads VIP tours in the Samaria region. “We have more important things to worry about.”
Haetzni and others were nonchalant about what has been reported as a national catastrophe waiting to happen – and a massive betrayal as well – to some Israelis living in Judea and Samaria.
The vote – normally a routine extension of the regulations implemented when Israel gained control of the territories in 1967 – failed to pass in the Knesset last week due to an opposition maneuver to break the coalition. Indeed, prominent proponents of the settlements, including opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu and Knesset Member Bezalel Smotrich, voted against their principles and the extension simply to bring down the government.
But Benny Katzover – who spoke at length with ALL ISRAEL NEWS about the foundlings of the settlement movement and its future prospects – was also nonplussed. When asked about benefits such as social security and disability payments which presumably won’t be paid out, he shrugged.
“So we won’t pay taxes either,” he said.
Haetzni and Katzover represent many residents of Judea and Samaria who are convinced that the government will find a solution even if the regulations really do lapse for the first time in 55 years.
In an off-the-record conversation last week, ALL ISRAEL NEWS spoke with a former Israel Defense Forces lawyer about the implications of the law. The lawyer said he would presume the current staff is busy considering how something like this will play out, and developing mechanisms to work around it.
A large challenge will be what to do with the thousands of Palestinians held in Israeli jails under these regulations. The prisoners would have to be transferred to Israeli jails in the West Bank – facilities that would be unable to accommodate such numbers.
“The whole fabric of relations, the whole fabric of what happens in the West Bank and the whole fabric of what happens in the land, goes through these regulations,” the lawyer said of the West Bank. “For me, I can’t argue with history, but we have to be practical.”
He also said that, “Annexation would certainly make the legal aspects easier.”
Aside from financial considerations such as monthly payments and taxes which are paid out and collected by the federal government, the Israeli police will not have jurisdiction in the area either and Israelis would be living under martial law.
Concern is running deep in the government.
Justice Minister Gideon Sa'ar said at a Cabinet meeting on Sunday that, “People fail to understand the implications.”
He listed some of the outcomes which include cutting off police stations in the West Bank from the rest of the force and a loss of basic civil rights that will prevent adoptions, inheritances and licensing for vehicles and some professions.
Deputy Attorney General Raz Nazri said chaos would be an “understatement.”
“We will not have the authority to detain 3,000 security prisoners now held in the West Bank,” he said.
Still, the affected citizens that were interviewed on Sunday are confident the government will find a legal loophole to avoid these challenges. And many – from all sectors of the Israeli populace – are banking on the government collapsing by the end of the month, which would mean the law automatically renews without a vote.
Nicole Jansezian is the news editor for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and senior correspondent for ALL ISRAEL NEWS