Israel legalises settler outposts on Palestinian land

Palestinian officials decried the contentious bill passed by Israel's Knesset on Monday that would retroactively legalize the expropriation of privately owned Palestinian land, saying it could kill the chances to reach a peace deal along the lines of a two-state solution.

The legislation has been condemned by Palestinians as a blow to their hopes of statehood.

Our correspondent said that the Palestinian land owners could take their case to the Supreme Court as early as Tuesday.

Sign up to our daily newsletter for your chance to win. "The landowners' struggle will continue in court", the group said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to President Donald Trump during their meeting in NY on September 25, 2016. The bill is likely headed for a high court challenge.

Roughly translated as the 'Regularization Law, ' the new measure does not allow Jewish settlers to own the land they live on but does allow them to stay in their homes, while Palestinian owners can not retake or own the land, "until there is a diplomatic resolution of the status of the territories".

Netanyahu said he was looking forward to discussing the matter at the White House on February 15.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is under intense pressure from members of his coalition to bring the bill to a vote in parliament following last week's court-ordered demolition of an illegally built settlement outpost.

But after Netanyahu announced plans to build over 6,000 new settler homes during Trump's first two weeks in office, the White House over the weekend signaled that it too may have its limits.

"The law will be voted upon and it has a majority", Shaked told participants of a cyber-security forum at Tel Aviv University, Arutz Sheva reported.

Hanan Ashrawi, a senior member of the Palestine Liberation Organization, the main Palestinian political umbrella body, said in a statement that the law gave settlers a green light to "embark on a land grab".

Science and Technology Minister Ofir Akunis of Netanyahu's Likud party said the argument was over the right to the Land of Israel. They say the settlements, home to 600,000 Israelis, are making it increasingly impossible to partition the land into two states - a position that has wide global backing. "This entire land is ours", Likud minister Ofir Akunis told parliament.

But there are detractors of the new legislation, with the opposition leader and Labour chief Isaac Herzog dubbing it as a "despicable law" and against "Israel's interests".

"I$3 t is imperative that the Knesset recognizes that passing this law will be harmful to Israel's image internationally and could undermine future efforts to achieving a two-state solution", said Jonathan Greenblatt, the ADL's national director.

The vote on the bill, which paves the way for legalizing illegal construction on Palestinian land throughout the West Bank was postponed about a month and a half ago.

The private Palestinian land would be seized by the government and held until there is a final resolution of decades-long Israel-Palestinian conflict.

Most countries consider the settlements illegal and an obstacle to peace as they reduce and fragment the territory Palestinians want for a viable state in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.

  • Rogelio Becker