This database consolidates all the bills and laws presented to the Knesset by members of Knesset and the Israeli government as of the 20th Knesset which feature a characteristic or element pertaining to annexation of the West Bank.
For the purpose of this database, annexation means application of Israel’s sovereignty to the territory of the West Bank, which was conquered by Israel in 1967. Israel has never applied its sovereignty to West Bank territory, with the exception of East Jerusalem, and West Bank territory is subject to Israel’s military control. Israel, as well as the international community, considers the West Bank separate from the State of Israel.
International law prohibits annexing territory conquered during armed conflict to the occupying power; it determines that the occupied territory must be held temporarily under a regime of occupation until circumstances change and the territory may be returned in the framework of an agreement.
According to international humanitarian law, the military commander is the acting sovereign in the occupied territory in the framework of the temporary occupation regime. The law of occupation is the binding normative legal framework in this regime as defined in international law (along with the local laws in force prior to occupation). The military commander is responsible for administrating daily arrangements, ensuring public order and the welfare of the population under occupation. Therefore, by legislating upon the occupied territory, the occupying country is applying its sovereignty and de-facto annexing the territory.
Israeli occupation of the West Bank has throughout the years been characterized by its policy of incremental or creeping annexation, achieved by implementing long-term changes to West Bank territory. The most prominent example for this de-facto annexation policy is the establishment and cultivation of Israeli settlements in the occupied territory, usurping land and natural resources far and wide.
A marked shift in Israel’s incremental annexation of the West Bank occurred during the 20th Knesset (March 31, 2015 – April 28, 2019) with the transition from de-facto annexation to de-jure annexation. Sixty bills pertaining to annexation were proposed during the 20th Knesset. Of these sixty bills, eight were approved and became law in Israel. The significance of this data is that the Israel Knesset regards itself as the legislative authority in the West Bank and the sovereign there.
Members of Knesset are the Israel public’s elected representatives in the Knesset the Israeli legislature. Millions of Palestinian residents of the West Bank, in contrast, are not Israeli citizens and do not have the right to vote; therefore, their interests are not represented in the Knesset and they lack the ability to influence Israel’s policy. The military commander is authorized by international law to consider only the interests of the occupied civilian population and military needs; the Knesset weighs a much wider range of issues and interests and is not obligated to consider the interests of the Palestinians, who do not have representation in the Knesset.
Steps towards de-jure annexation are evident through legal opinions and shifts in the State’s position (such as in petitions adjudicated in the Israeli courts and publications issued by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs), as well as in legislation. These shifts ostensibly challenge the West Bank’s legal status as occupied territory, Israel’s authority to operate there, and Israel’s duty to protect the rights and property of the Palestinian population living under its occupation.
This database focuses on the de-jure/legislative steps undertaken towards annexation by Knesset legislation. It provides detailed information regarding various bills on numerous topics at the respective stages of legislation, from bills submitted to laws approved by the Knesset and introduced into Israel’s statute book. All these bills and laws incorporate elements pertaining to annexation.
Almost needless to say, the State of Israel has not openly declared its intention to annex the West Bank and has not granted equal rights to Palestinians residents of the West Bank citizenship. Therefore, as steps towards annexation intensify, there is a growing impression that Israel is transforming itself into an apartheid state. Two types of people live under Israel’s regime and subject to its control and sovereignty: Israeli citizens who have full rights, and Palestinian residents who lack political rights, as well as other rights.
We have grouped the bills and laws into four categories:
- Applying Israeli law and jurisdiction (sovereignty) – legislation seeking to apply Israeli sovereignty to all or part of the West Bank territory.
- Direct legislation by the Knesset on the occupied territory – legislation seeking to assign the Knesset legislative powers upon the occupied territory and directly legislate laws with territorial jurisdiction (rather than personal jurisdiction) upon the West Bank.
- Assuming the powers of the military commander of the Area – legislation seeking to appropriate authority from the military commander, whose authority is grounded in international law and who acts in the place of the sovereign in the occupied territory and transfer it to the Knesset or other Israeli authorities.
- Normalizing and blurring the Green Line – legislation seeking to obfuscate the differences between the sovereign State of Israel and the occupied West Bank, which is subject to Israeli military rule.