Middle East: Israel’s government loses crucial vote

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    Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s alliance collapsed after a controversial parliamentary vote. This could have far-reaching implications.

    Israel’s government lost a crucial vote in Parliament on Monday. Justice Minister Gideon Saar had previously stressed that he saw the vote as a test of the viability of the eight-party coalition.

    The vote concerned the application of Israeli law to Israeli settlers in the occupied Palestinian territories. This regulation has existed since 1967, but must be renewed every five years. The current regulation expires at the end of June. 52 MEPs voted in favor of the directive, 58 against.

    Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s government had already lost its wafer-thin majority of 61 out of 120 seats in April because a member of parliament had left the coalition government. Since then, the coalition has regularly threatened to fail, for example because it can hardly pass laws independently in the Knesset.

    What would an end to the regulation mean?

    Israel conquered the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 1967. More than 600,000 Israeli settlers live there today. The Palestinians, on the other hand, want the territories for an independent state of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital.

    In the West Bank, Palestinian law or Israeli military law applies to the approximately three million Palestinians, while Israeli law applies to Israeli settlers. According to a report in the Times Of Israel, an end to the current regime would mean that criminal Israelis could flee to the West Bank without fear of prosecution. There would also be massive problems for settlers, for example in relation to taxes and health insurance.