On Sunday, the Israeli Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved amendments proposed by parties of the ruling coalition. The amendments provide that more Israeli laws be enforced on settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt).
The amendments involve 12 laws.
According to Yedioth Ahronoth, the issue concerns the most important steps taken by the Minister of Justice, Ayelet Shaked, in favour of the settlement enterprise and settlements in the West Bank.
At Shaked’s request, Legal Advisor to the Israeli Government Avichai Mandelblit approved the so-called “Procedure for Judea and Samaria” two weeks ago. The document provides that, in every new law enacted by the Knesset, reference will be made to the West Bank. Bills will be adapted so that they can be in force in settlements.
Accordingly, the Ministry of Justice will determine whether a new law can be applied to the occupied West Bank. The main question will be whether the law is consistent the international law. The latter does not allow that Israeli laws be applicable to the oPt for security reasons or for the purpose of fulfilling “needs of the population.”
For the first time, Yedioth Ahronoth unveiled that Shaked and the Minister of Tourism Yariv Levin worked to ensure that new regulations do not ignore hundreds of thousands of Israeli settlers, who live in settlements. Then, Shaked and Levin took the initiative, which is moving at a greater pace now.
On the other hand, Gisha Legal Center for Freedom of Movement has recently published a new report, titled 2017: Tightening of the Closure. Gisha highlights that 2017 marked a more severe blockade on the Gaza Strip.
The new publication by Gisha reviews and analyses 10 measures taken by Israel over the course of 2017, further restricting movement of people to and from the Gaza Strip via Erez Crossing. The list includes new restrictions as well as more intensified obstacles that have been in place for years.
According to Gisha, what is clear is that these measures were introduced with little to no public discussion, with immediate effect and no prior notice, no justification provided as to their purpose and, it appears, no consideration of the impact they would have on Gaza’s civilian population, which is already under great duress. In addition to the continued closure of the Rafah Crossing, tightening of the Israeli closure on Gaza bluntly violates the Gaza population’s right to movement, which is already extremely restricted.
These new restrictions are imposed in spite of the frequent statements made by senior military and political officials in Israel, acknowledging that Gaza’s recovery and economic development are linked with Israel’s security. Contrary to these statements, a steep regression has been witnessed in access to and from the Gaza Strip. The number of exits by Palestinians through Erez Crossing in 2017 dropped by 51 percent compared to 2016 and 60 percent in contrast with 2015. The monthly average in 2017 was only 5,963 exits compared to a monthly average of 12,150 exits in 2016 and 14,276 exits in 2015. In 2014, before Israel announced “facilities” to the movement of Gaza residents, the monthly average number of exits was 6,270.
Imposed for over 10 years, the Israeli closure on Gaza has had large scale and severe impacts on the lives of 2 million residents of Gaza. All-pervasive and wanton restrictions on the movement of persons cripple the economy and cause disappointment. Restrictions should be lifted immediately. 2018 should mark a radical change of Israel’s failed policy towards the Gaza Strip. Israel should recognise its responsibility for a normal daily life of the Gaza population and respect their right to freedom of movement.