The coalition agreed to postpone a vote scheduled for Sunday on a bill to apply Israeli law to West Bank settlements, in light of the developing security situation.
“Following the security events, and in order to allow continued diplomatic talks on the matter, there was a consensus in the meeting of coalition party leaders to postpone bringing up the sovereignty bill,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s spokesman said, referring to Israel downing an Iranian drone and an Israeli plane being hit by a Syrian missile on Saturday.
The legislation – proposed by the chairmen of the influential, right-wing Knesset Land of Israel Caucus, Yoav Kisch (Likud) and Bezalel Smotrich (Bayit Yehudi) – would make Israeli laws automatically extend to the West Bank and apply to Israeli settlements.
In response to the postponed vote, Kisch said: “I believe this is the best and most correct time to bring up the ‘sovereignty bill,’ and therefore, I refused to remove it from the agenda. At the same time, I accept the position of the coalition heads who chose to postpone it to another time.”
“We will continue to act in this direction, following the great importance of the matter. Only a Likud government led by Netanyahu can pass this responsibly,” he added.
The bill is based on a resolution approved by the Likud central committee last month with backing from many of the party’s ministers and MKs, though Netanyahu was thought to be reluctant to support it even before Saturday’s events.
Last week, Bayit Yehudi said it would make sure the bill was brought to a vote on Sunday.
Meretz MK Tamar Zandberg said: “The sovereignty bill is a disaster for the State of Israel as we know it, and the start of a crawl towards apartheid and a binational state. Even in the most extreme government we’ve ever had, which winks the most at the settlers, its hands tremble when it comes to the decision to decree Israel’s future as a non-democratic state and dismantling Israel’s ties with the world. We will fight so this bill does not see the light of day.”