Maximum Authority, Minimum Responsibility: Implications of Israel’s 37th Government’s Policy on Palestinian Human Rights in the Occupied Territories

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In the six months since its establishment, Israel’s 37th government has been trying to promote a set of legislative measures whose stated purpose is to weaken the judiciary and impair its ability to inspect and review the decisions of the executive branch. The proposed bills seek to alter the balance of power between the executive and judicial branches in such a fundamental way as to actually change the regime in the State of Israel. In parallel, the government has taken a series of steps with regard to its control of the West Bank, such as appointments, transfers of powers, administrative directives, and budget allocations that amount to changing the system of government enforced in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). These steps, which structurally, deliberately, and declaratively entrench Israel’s grip on the West Bank and the use of apartheid-like practices benefiting the Jews living in the OPT at the expense of the Palestinians, are based on the first clause in the government’s basic guidelines, whereby “the Jewish people possess an exclusive and inalienable right to all parts of the Land of Israel. The government shall promote and develop Jewish settlement in all parts of the Land of Israel in the Galilee, the Negev, the Golan, Judea, and Samaria.”

These two moves, “the judicial reform” and the steps to deepen control and Jewish settlement in the West Bank, allow the government to expand the powers of the State of Israel and its proxies in the OPT, and concurrently reduce their responsibility for safeguarding the rights of the Palestinians in an unbridled and unbalanced manner. This outcome contradicts a fundamental principle in international law whereby control comes with responsibility.

It has already been said by others that all these moves are intended to fashion a Jewish supremacy regime in the area controlled by Israel spanning from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River. The purpose of this paper is to elaborate on the two-fold process of rule expansion and abdication of responsibility across several facets and to ascertain its repercussions on the status of the OPT and the rights of the Palestinians.


Dr. Maha Sabbah Karkabi


Senior Lecturer in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. She holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from Tel Aviv University (2015), a postdoctoral fellowship at the Center for Gender Studies, SOAS, University of London (2015-2016), a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Sociology at Tel Aviv University (2016-2017), and a postdoctoral fellowship Ph.D. at the Humphrey Institute for Social Research, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (2018-2020).
Dr. Maha Karbahi’s areas of interest focus on the connection between social change, family behavior, and gender inequality in societies in the process of change and specifically in Palestinian Arab society in Israel. Her research draws attention to the study of family life and employment, using a combined “ethnic lens” and “gender lens” and paying attention to the perspective of Palestinian Arab women, a group characterized by intersections between multiple marginal locations, which over the years has remained hidden from the research eye. Dr. Karkabi-Sabah’s research is published in professional journals and chapters in scientific books that are considered pioneers in family research, work, and gender equality.


Prof. Frances Raday

Professor Emeritus in the Lieberman Chair in Labor Law, in the Faculty of Law at the Hebrew University and serves as a full professor in the College of Management’s academic track, where she also serves as chair of the graduate program and as honorary president of the Concord Center for International Law Absorption. Radai was a member of a working group of the UN Human Rights Council on discrimination against women. In addition, she is a prominent and feminist human rights activist.


Dr. Rawia Aburabia 

Faculty member of Sapir Academic College’s School of Law, received her PhD from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her research deals with the interface between law, gender, minorities, and human rights. Has published in leading journals on the subject of the matrimonial laws pertaining to Muslim women in Israel. Her book Under the Law, Outside Justice: Polygamy, Gendered Citizenship, and Colonialism in Israeli Law is expected to be published as part of the Gender Series of Kibbutz Meuhad Publishing House.

Dr. Aburabia has extensive experience in international human rights and public law. She has worked as a jurist for the Association for Civil Right and has been invited as a specialist to address such international forums as the United Nations and the European Parliament on the subject of indigenous communities and minority rights. She has interned with Human Rights Watch in Washington DC, and has been a member of the executive board of Amnesty International. In 2018, she was selected by the magazine Globes as one of the 40 most promising young persons in Israel under the age of 40.



Ron Kessler

With over two decades of experience in the field of digital content, Ron has participated in numerous political and social campaigns. He helped run the digital activity of senior public officials, and worked in various NGOs. Ron is a fundamentally optimistic man, who believes that Israel can be changed and so can people. Lives in Tel Aviv.