Knesset debate over Civil Law in Israel threatens protections on settlers

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HEBRON, West Bank — Noam Arnon and Issa Amro live within a few blocks of each other in the center of this biblical city, but they live under two different sets of laws. Amro, along with Hebron’s other 200,000 Palestinian residents, is subject to military law imposed by the occupying Israeli forces. Soldiers can, and have, entered his house and body-searched him on the streets without warrant or warning.

Arnon and the other 800 residents of an Israeli settlement in Hebron’s Old City live under Israeli civil law, enjoying the same protections against warrantless searches, the arrest of minors and other police powers as their countrymen living in Israel. “Israeli law must apply here,” said Arnon, who believes that Jews have a biblical and historical claim to these ancient lands. “Hebron is more Israeli than Tel Aviv.”

But the decades-old system in which Israel extends its legal code to its citizens settling in the Palestinian territories is suddenly imperiled. Lawmakers in Jerusalem are deadlocked on renewing the arrangement in a schism that could dissolve the unusual two-tiered legal system and subject the West Bank’s Israelis to the same martial law as their Palestinian neighbors.


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