June 23, 2017

Israel to debates bill legalizing West Bank settlements

07 February 2017, 01:03 | Muriel Sparks

Rosemary Calvert via Getty Images

Rosemary Calvert via Getty Images

"I am concerned by the scheduled vote on the so-called "Regularisation Bill" as it would enable the continued use of privately-owned Palestinian land for Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank".

The law, approved by 60 members of parliament to 52 against, passed its third and final reading after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had updated the United States administration on the issue.

"The bill has been deemed unconstitutional by the Attorney General of Israel and is in contravention of global law". The new law, which is expected to be appealed, would offer Palestinians compensation for their loss.

B'Tselem, a watchdog monitoring human rights abuses in the settlements, slammed the bill.

According to, Haaretz reported Netanyahu saying that the bill to recognise illegal Israeli settlements was to be put forward for approval in the second and third readings by the Knesset today.

Al Jazeera's Imran Khan, reporting from West Jerusalem, said: "Palestinians are simply being forced to do this".

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he supported holding a vote Monday night on a controversial bill that would legalize West Bank settlement outposts, and had informed U.S. President Donald Trump's administration about it. The clause that would have circumvented that court ruling, however, was removed from the bill following coalition infighting. "The landowners' struggle will continue in court", the group said.

Last week, a few hundred residents of the Amona outpost in the West Bank were evicted after the Supreme Court ruled their homes were built on private Palestinian land.

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The Balfour Declaration, which declared "the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people" on November 2, 1917, officially became part of global law when the League of Nations adopted it in 1922. Palestinians who live in the territory are not Israeli citizens; they don't vote in Israeli elections; they live under a military authority.

Demolitions and removal of the buildings there began on Monday.

"All core issues should be resolved between the parties through direct negotiations on the basis of relevant Security Council resolutions and mutual agreements", said Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov in a statement.

"If adopted into law, it will have far-reaching legal consequences for Israel and greatly diminish the prospects for Arab-Israeli peace", he added.

The White House statement was interpreted as a message to Netanyahu and his government that the USA administration meant to reserve its options.

Emboldened by the Trump administration, the Israeli government is expanding settlement construction at an alarming new rate. "With this bill, Netanyahu is playing to his domestic audience. supporters have been pushing him to go even further. I am not bothered by this", Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu stressed the "international legal status of the land of Israel" upon visiting the place where the Balfour Declaration, which recognized Jewish national rights to historic Palestine, was written.

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