Adalah: The Law Allowing for the Appointment of an Additional Minister in the Defense Ministry is Intended to Advance Apartheid and De Facto Annexation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory

The law introduced to allow the appointment of ‘Religious Zionist’ Party Chairman Bezalel Smotrich as a minister in the Defense Ministry will enable the realization of the stated policy and political position of the party. The ‘Religious Zionist’ Party seeks to advance acts that constitute war crimes under the Rome Statute.


Update: on 27 December 2022, the Knesset passed the amendment in a 63 to 55 majority of Members of Knesset. 


On 18 December 2022, Adalah -The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel sent a letter to the Knesset’s legal advisor to Israel’s military commander in the West Bank, the Attorney General, and other relevant parties detailing its position on the clauses of the coalition agreements signed between the Likud and the Religious Zionist Party in advance of the establishment of the 37th government. The clause stipulates that a minister from the Religious Zionist Party will serve as an additional minister in the Ministry of Defense and shall be responsible for operations of the Civil Administration and  Coordination of  Government Activities in the Territories’ (COGAT). This was introduced to allow the appointment of Religious Zionism Chairman Bezalel Smotrich as a minister within the Defense Ministry. 


CLICK HERE to read the coalition agreement between the Religious Zionist Party and the Likud


CLICK HERE to read Adalah’s letter [Hebrew]


Following, a proposed amendment to the Basic Law: The Government was introduced, allowing the appointment of a second minister in the Defense Ministry. In the letter, Adalah’s Legal Director Dr. Suhad Bishara argued that the amendment is intended to enable the realization of the stated policy and political position of the Religious Zionist party concerning settlements’ expansion in the occupied Palestinian Territory (oPT) and should be read in light of the party’s platform and objectives. This includes the "regularization" of settlements and outposts, and measures amounting to de facto annexation, including military legislation that will essentially apply Israeli laws to Israeli-Jewish settlers in the West Bank. 


CLICK HERE to read the party’s platform [Hebrew]


These commitments are in clear violation of international law, including the establishment and expansion of settlements in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which amount to war crimes according to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. The aforementioned commitments and any move to implement them will lead to a deepening of the de facto annexation mechanism of occupied territories, in complete contradiction to the laws of occupation, a crime of aggression according to Article 8(2)(a) of the Rome Constitution. The unification of the essential laws that apply to the settlers with those that apply in Israel constitute significant steps that further deepen the apartheid system that already exists in the occupied territories. Apartheid is absolutely prohibited in the International Convention on the Elimination and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid, which defines apartheid practices as a crime against humanity. Apartheid is also defined as a crime against humanity under Article 7(1)(j) of the Rome Statute.