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Israel mulls bill to annex ‘parks, natural reserves’ in occupied West Bank

May 26, 2023 at 1:47 pm

Palestinians enjoy a water spring in the nature reserve of Ein Feshkha, on the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea, in the West Bank, south of Palestinian city of Jericho on August 23, 2018 [AFP via Getty Images]

The Israeli Ministerial Committee for Legislation Affairs will discuss on Sunday an amendment to the law on national parks, nature reserves, national sites and memorials, which aims to impose Israeli law on such sites in the occupied West Bank, Haaretz newspaper reported.

The bill, submitted by Knesset member Danny Danon of the Likud Party, authorises the interior minister to declare sites in those areas as national sites rather than the defence minister, who currently has that power.

“The lands of Judea and Samaria [the West Bank] are full of heritage sites of great national and historical importance to the development of settlement in the Land of Israel,” the proposal’s explanatory note said.

“We must recognise the history of the Jewish people that can be found in every clod of earth in Judea and Samaria,” it added.

According to the paper, if the Knesset approves the bill, it will lead to the annexation of other areas.

The paper quoted human rights lawyer, Michael Sfard, as saying: “The bill fits into the work of legal annexation that this government is leading, as part of which the powers of government bodies are stretched beyond the Green Line and the Israeli legislator claims to exercise legislative authority in the occupied West Bank.”

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“There is no difference between the aggressive annexation of parts of Ukraine by [Russian President] Putin and the moves made by the Israeli government,” he added.

The committee will also discuss a draft bill proposed by the far-right Otzma Yehudit MK Limor Son Har-Melech which aims to amend the student’s rights law to allow for the expulsion of students “who support terrorism”. This is defined as expressing support for an enemy state’s armed struggle or that of a terrorist organisation that targets Israel or “waving the flag of an enemy nation, terror group or the Palestinian Authority.”