Published: Tue, February 07, 2017
Sport | By Cecil Buchanan

Israel likely to pass bill retroactively legalising Jewish settlements

The bill retroactively "legalizes" Jewish settlements built on Palestinian land, and has been condemned by the global community.

Josh Ruebner is Policy Director of the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights and author of Shattered Hopes: Obama's Failure to Broker Israeli-Palestinian Peace.

The law freezes demolition proceedings against the homes. The clause that would have circumvented that court ruling, however, was removed from the bill following coalition infighting. About 600,000 Jewish settlers live in about 140 settlements built in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, areas captured in the Six-Day War of 1967.

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 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 White House had expressed reservations over Israel's settlement enterprise, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday he wanted to coordinate with Washington, leading to speculation the bill's final readings would be postponed again.

"The Balfour Declaration was incorporated into the terms of the British Mandate and adopted by the United Nations - and until today it remains a binding document that defines the global legal status of the Land of Israel", remarked Netanyahu.

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Thousands of Israelis live in the unauthorized enclaves. "With this bill, Netanyahu is playing to his domestic audience. supporters have been pushing him to go even further".

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.

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 global law". "He can simply turn around and say, "I tried my hardest".

"The outpost legalization bill is the latest in a series of steps to expand illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian land".

The Trump administration's statement is not only a repudiation of these eleventh-hour realizations by outgoing administration; it is also a radical upending of USA policy opposing Israeli settlements dating back to the Johnson administration.

Netanyahu noted that this bill would be approved but he first wanted to discuss the issue with Trump before it.

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