Debate is underway right now in the parliament on what is normally a routine vote – extending emergency regulations that apply Israeli law to Israeli citizens living in the West Bank.
If right-wing lawmakers in the opposition, led by former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, vote against the measure, half a million Israeli citizens who live there will have the blanket of federal law removed from them, which could set into motion a series of unknown and unexplored consequences.
This has left settlers – some of the most ardent Zionists – feeling betrayed and even angry.
While no one knows exactly the full implications, if the bill fails Israeli citizens who live in the West Bank – at the very least – would not be able to call the police for help, receive social security, renew their driver’s licenses, be drafted into the army or even vote.
In addition to that, we have not been able to confirm whether:
Knesset members who live in the West Bank would have to resign from their position
Current Israel Defense Forces soldiers would have to cease their service
Residents would be eligible for healthcare, which is quasi-private but government subsidized
Sources with whom we spoke to do not have all of these answers – and that could be because the vote has never failed before. This emergency measure has been routinely extended every five years since 1967 when Israel gained control over the region but did not formally annex it as Israeli territory, as it did with the Golan Heights.
“Even if its only 50% of what is being speculated about, the implications are disastrous for me personally, for Israel’s authority in Judea-Samaria and internationally and on and on and on,” said Jonathan Feldstein, an Israeli citizen who lives in the affected region.
“I don’t even begin to understand how someone in the government walks back after a vote tonight on something that takes away my Israeli citizenship,” Feldstein told ALL ISRAEL NEWS.
Retirees or people with disabilities who live on their Bituach Leumi (social security) checks are likely to feel an immediate effect.
“Even forget the politics, on a human level it’s unconscionable,” said Feldstein, who is a regular columnist for ALL ISRAEL NEWS.
And if the government of Israel ceases to acknowledge the settlements as part of Israeli's footprint in the land, it could fuel the existing international dispute over the territory itself.
“I am less concerned for myself, but more concerned for the State of Israel and the future of State of Israel and the future of Judea and Samaria in a stupid, politicized vote.”
“You don’t even need to put fuel on a fire that says Israel’s presence behind the Green Line is illegal,” Feldstein noted.
“This is why I am so pissed off at Likud,” Feldstein said.
HOW HAS A ROUTINE VOTE COME TO THIS?
The settlement bill is being used as a tool to bring down the current government, even though the bill itself is supported by a majority of the opposition, including some of the most Zionistic Knesset members.
Failure to pass the law would create “absolute chaos” for Jewish settlers in the Palestinian territory, according to David Elhayani, Yesha Council chairman.
But the opposition senses an opportunity to bring down the government despite the great cost. With the coalition holding only 60 out 120 seats, it does not have a majority vote and would rely on the opposition members who believe in the settlements – or even live in them – to cast their vote on the matter.
Last week, however, secret recordings were leaked to the media revealing an opposition plan led by Likud to bolster their own position by voting against bills they would normally support simply to collapse the government.
Today, leading up to the vote, Defense Minister Benny Gantz was looking for ways to work around a potential security nightmare if the vote failed. One option was to have the military in the West Bank issue an ordinance applying the measure.
Should the measure fail to pass, here is the best case scenario: The government falls, new elections are set for three months from now; after the election, a new government deal is brokered and a new coalition – installed shortly afterwards – brings the matter to a quick vote and the emergency measure is reinstalled for five years.
But that leaves the West Bank, and all the Israelis who live there, in limbo for nearly half a year at best.
Nicole Jansezian is the news editor for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and senior correspondent for ALL ISRAEL NEWS