The mechanics of Israel’s annexation in the West Bank


How will annexation impact the legal status of Israeli settlers and the Palestinians that live in the areas that are annexed?

A Palestinian stands on his property overlooking the Israeli settlement Har Homa, West Bank, 18 February 2011

Jonathan Kuttab writes in Mondoweiss:

Few know exactly how the Israeli annexation of certain territories in the occupied West Bank will take place, but it is safe to make some observations based on past experience. In all likelihood, legislation will be passed in the Knesset extending Israeli law and administration to certain areas shown in some attached map. Existing legislation allows such an act to be carried out by an Israeli government administratively and with little fanfare. It is solely the political implications of the action that would necessitate Knesset action, and only by a simple majority. However, reversing the process (that is, ceding land) would require the approval of a supermajority of votes in the Knesset, or 80 out of 120 members.

At a minimum, annexation—or extending Israeli law and administration to parts of the Jordan Valley—will require that Israel update, change, adapt, or reaffirm decrees, laws, and military orders that, since the 1967 occupation of the West Bank, have governed how the occupying power administers the territory and its inhabitants. Such laws, decrees, and military orders address relations with the Palestinians––especially as pertaining to the post-Oslo Accords and Areas A, B, and C––as well as Israeli settlers in illegal settlements, the status of these settlements in Israel’s military doctrine, and economic and social affairs, among other things. But whatever the new regulations may be, annexation is bringing new conditions that are likely to sow the seeds for extended conflict in the future, especially that the Israeli army itself has apparently been kept in the dark as to the particulars of the annexation.

Status of Jewish Settlers
After the supposed annexation, Jewish settlers will be treated exactly as if they are living in Israel de jure (by a lawful right), and not just de facto (by fact, or reality). Those who hold Israeli passports will continue to do so and will be treated as if living in Israel proper. This is significant since Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem have often lost their residency status if they lived in the West Bank, which was considered to be “outside” the state of Israel by the Israeli Ministry of Interior, which controls their status. A prominent case that exemplifies this policy is that of East Jerusalemite Mubarak Awad who, in 1988, lost his case to maintain his residency in East Jerusalem, which had been annexed to Israel following the 1967 war. Israel’s High Court decreed that since Awad was not Jewish and the Law of Return does not apply to him, and since the law annexing Jerusalem failed to define his status, then the Law of Entry into Israel of 1955 applied to Awad and his status was akin to that of an immigrant to Israel, thus making him and other Palestinians living in Jerusalem residents instead of full citizens.

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