The Knesset passed into law the settlement Regularization bill on Monday, granting official Israeli governmental recognition to more than a dozen settlements in the West Bank established on so-called “private Palestinian lands.”
The legislation passed its final reading late on Monday evening with 60 votes in favor to 52 against, despite uncertainty over whether the vote would be postponed at the demand of Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu.
The law states that any settlements built in the West Bank “in good faith” – without knowledge that the land upon which it was built was privately owned by Palestinians – could be officially recognized by Israel pending proof of governmental support in its establishment and some form of compensation to the Palestinian landowners.
As it stands, the law would affect the status of 16 settlements, although Israeli media reports indicated that more could be included in the future.
Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has stated that the bill contravenes both Israeli and international law and that the Israeli Supreme Court would likely strike it down.
Several Israeli NGOs have already indicated that they plan to challenge the law in front of the Supreme Court.
Palestine Secretary-General Saeb Erekat said that the law was “legaliz(ing) theft of Palestinian land.”
“All Israeli settlements in Occupied Palestine are illegal and a war crime regardless of any law passed by the Israeli parliament or any decision taken by any Israeli judge,” Erekat added in a written statement. “It is overdue time to stop treating Israel as a state above the law.”
The Arab Joint List denounced the law as an “assassination of the peaceful solution,” Palestinian newspaper al-Ayyam reported.
The passage of the bill was hailed by Israel’s far-right parties.
Israeli Minister of Education Naftali Bennett simply tweeted “Revolution.” in the wake of the final vote.
MK Bezalel Smotrich, who, like Bennett, is a member of the Jewish Home party, thanked US citizens for electing Donald Trump as president, “without whom the law would have probably not passed.”
“Our opposition to the bill stems from our opposition to annexation. It does not stem from the problem that there is a nation of (Israeli) residents (in the West Bank) or that there are (Israeli) communities (in the West Bank), but rather with the entry of thousands of Palestinians into the Jewish State,” MK Isaac Herzog, the leader of the opposition, said.
“There are a few more minutes to stop this train of horror before it proceeds on its way. This train will depart from here and stop at the final station of The Hague,” Herzog added. “International indictments will leave its carriages against Jewish soldiers and officers and Israelis. The Prime Minister of Israel (will be responsible) for these indictments.”
Meanwhile, hours after Prime Minister Netanyahu left London following his first visit with British Prime Minister Theresa May, the UK government today denounced Israel
“As a longstanding friend of Israel, I condemn the passing of the Land Regularisation Bill by the Knesset, which damages Israel’s standing with its international partners,” Minister for the Middle East Tobias Ellwood said in a statement. “It is of great concern that the bill paves the way for significant growth in settlements deep in the West Bank, threatening the viability of the two-state solution.”
Source: Maan News