Israel’s parliament on Monday passed a law retroactively legalising over 4,000 settlement homes on private Palestinian land in West Bank, reported Reuters. However, the law is expected to be challenged in Israel’s Supreme Court as the legislation breaches the court’s rulings on property rights.
The legislation was passed by a vote of 52 to 60 and has been backed by Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition. Opposition MPs raised a black cloth in Parliament in protest against the bill. Under the new law, the Palestinian land owners will be offered financial compensation or alternative land, but they cannot reclaim their land.
Ahead of the vote, Cabinet minister Ofir Akunis had said, “We are voting tonight on the connection between the Jewish people and its land. This whole land is ours. All of it,” reported AP. Israel’s attorney-general has refused to defend the bill in the Supreme Court calling it “unconstitutional”.
The Palestine Liberation Organisation said the new law was just a means to “legalise theft”, as the land is owned by Palestinians, reported Al Jazeera. The organisation accused the Israeli government of destroying any chance of a political solution. Hanan Ashrawi, a senior member of the PLO, said Netanyahu and his “racist coalition” government were deliberately breaking the law and “destroying the very foundations of the two-state solution”.
Netanyahu, who was not present for the vote, has privately opposed the Bill as he is concerned it could invite prosecution by the International Criminal Court at The Hague, reported Reuters. Earlier, Netanyahu had said he wanted to coordinate with the United States before going ahead on a vote. On his trip to London he said he had updated Washington on the matter. Netanyahu was on his way back from London when the vote took place. The White House said it would refrain from commenting on the legislation until the court gives a verdict on it, AP reported.
The settlements are considered illegal and an obstacle to peace by many countries and the United Nations. However, Israel has cited biblical and political connections to the land, Reuters added.