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Israel Legalises Controversial Settler Outposts on Palestinian Land

The law met with fierce opposition within the Parliament, with warnings that it would harm Israel, and the United Nations saying it would diminish chances for peace.

AFP

Updated:February 7, 2017, 8:24 AM IST
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Israel Legalises Controversial Settler Outposts on Palestinian Land
A general view shows the Israeli settlement of Ramot in an area of the occupied West Bank that Israel annexed to Jerusalem January 22, 2017. (Photo: REUTERS)
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Jerusalam: The Israeli Parliament has finalised a controversial law legalising dozens of Jewish outposts built on private Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank.

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

Netanyahu did not participate in the vote since he was returning from a trip to London.

The law met with fierce opposition within the Parliament, with warnings that it would harm Israel, and the United Nations saying it would diminish chances for peace.

Speaking after the law was finalised, Bezalel Smotrich of the far-right Jewish Home, who was one of the forces behind the legislation, thanked the American people for electing Donald Trump as president, “without whom the law would have probably not passed“.

Ahead of the vote, opposition chief and Labour leader Isaac Herzog lashed out against the “despicable law” that he said would undermine the country’s Jewish majority.

“The vote tonight isn’t for or against the settlers, rather Israel’s interests,” Herzog said.

The law would “annex millions of Palestinians into Israel”, he warned, and expose Israeli soldiers and politicians to lawsuits at international criminal courts.

Science and Technology Minister Ofir Akunis of Netanyahu’s Likud party said the argument was over the right to the Land of Israel.

“All of the Land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people,” he told Herzog, using the biblical term that included the West Bank. “This right is eternal and indisputable.”

The law is seen by critics as promoting at least partial annexation of the West Bank, a key demand for parts of Netanyahu’s right—wing cabinet, including the hardline Jewish Home party.

The bill could still be challenged, with Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman saying last week: “The chance that it will be struck down by the Supreme Court is 100 percent.”

Its defenders argue the bill will allow settlers to live without fear of being driven from their homes —— many of which they have lived in for years.

Last week, the 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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