The Israeli parliament, the Knesset, passed a controversial bill on Tuesday that would allow verdicts from military court proceedings in the occupied West Bank to be submitted as evidence in Israeli civilian courts, a move which critics claim is another step aiming to illegally annex the West Bank by applying Israeli domestic laws in the territory.
During a debate over the bill — proposed by MK Anat Berko from the ruling Likud party — opposition MKs argued that the bill constitutes an extension of the Israeli occupation and the government’s control over the West Bank, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported.
MK Zouheir Bahloul from the left-wing Zionist party was quoted by Haaretz as saying the bill would be a “de-facto annexation of military court verdicts to civilian courts,” adding that the Israeli government would essentially be “applying Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank, which is occupied territory.”
A Palestinian teenager has been killed by Israeli forces after they raided a West Bank village. pic.twitter.com/TLpIlydm0a
— AJ+ (@ajplus) January 17, 2017
Previously, Israeli military rule, which Palestinians in the West Bank are subjected to, was separate from any civil legal proceedings inside Israel.
The new bill would act to synchronize these formerly distinct systems and allow Israeli civilians to use verdicts made in the military courts for civilian cases against Palestinians.
Berko reportedly argued in the Knesset debate that the law would “make it easier for victims of terror to demand compensation from convicted terrorists in civilian courts since they will not have to begin the legal process from zero, rather can base on evidence already produced in military courts.”
Israeli parliament set to pass law recognising rulings of military courts in West Bank as evidence in civil courts https://t.co/27zzfPur10
— Ben White (@benabyad) January 16, 2017
However, since the Palestinian territory is under a military occupation, Israeli authorities are mandated by international law to follow the local legal systems already extant in the occupied territory, which in the case of Palestine falls within three legal systems: Ottoman, British, and Jordanian law.
Any application of Israeli domestic legislation or courts would be in violation of international law.
The decision is an unprecedented move by Israeli authorities and follows a right-wing upsurge in the Knesset with ultra-right ministers routinely pushing for the annexation of the West Bank.
(Ma’an, PC, Social Media)