Israel Passes Bill That Retroactively Legalizes Jewish Settlements

07 February, 2017, 01:18 | Author: Felix Jensen

US President Donald Trump, who has unabashedly supported Israel, said the law "may not be helpful" in US-backed efforts to bring peace to Israel and the Palestinians.

Not only has the United States traditionally viewed Israeli settlements as a barrier to peace; it has also deemed them to be illegal, a position most succinctly encapsulated by the State Department's legal adviser, who concluded in a 1978 letter to Congress that the establishment of Israeli settlements is "inconsistent with worldwide law". One lawmaker called the measure the "robbery bill".

But the measure still faces steep obstacles, including legal challenges that could land it before Israel's Supreme Court, where the attorney general has said he will not argue in defense of it.

According to Netanyahu and reports in the Israeli media, the vote on the bill, which would essentially snatch private Palestinian land and give it to hardline settlers, was coordinated with the Trump administration.

Since Trump's inauguration, Israel has announced more than 6,000 new homes in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, seen as key parts of any future Palestinian state.

Ben Nun said Netanyahu's support for the bill was an attempt to "divert the public debate" from corruption allegations levied against him, as well as a move to "satisfy the extreme right wing".

The so-called "Regulation Bill" applies to around 4,000 settlement homes in the West Bank for which settlers could prove ignorance that they had built on privately owned land and had received encouragement from the Israeli state to do so.

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seeking to coordinate the passage of the settlement regulation bill with the U.S. as right-wing lawmakers prepare for a Knesset vote late on Monday night that would approve the legislation.

Israel will be looking to Trump's reaction, however, as the new USA president has indicated he is far less hostile to settlement expansion than his predecessor Barack Obama. The apparent message to settlers: Go ahead and establish your outposts anywhere you want on Palestinian land.

In parliament on Monday, Shuli Mualem of the Jewish Home dedicated the law to the people evicted from Amona.

Netanyahu has been under huge pressure from his far right over the legislation, particularly from the education minister, Naftali Bennett. "I am not bothered by this", Netanyahu said. The issue is expected to be high on the agenda when the two leaders meet in the White House on February 15.

Dov Khenin of the Arab Joint List said the opposition would not cooperate with the bill's legislative process, accusing its proponents of acting counter to regulations.

"They are passing a law that will endanger IDF soldiers, will endanger Israel's worldwide standing, will endanger our being a state of law and order, because they have problems within the coalition", Lapid said.

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