Friday, 24 November, 2017

Israel retroactively legalizes West Bank settlements. Can they do that?

Melinda Barton | 10 February, 2017, 02:23

The Israeli parliament on Monday passed a law that retroactively legalizes thousands of West Bank settlement homes.

Echoing the German comments, Le Gal added: "The global community is wondering if they should trust Israel when Israel is saying that [it] is ready for discussion with its neighbours, the Palestinians, and to reach an agreement on the two-state solution".

The move followed years of political controversy over the outpost, which is built on private Palestinian land. Peace Now, Yesh Din and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, the leftwing non-governmental organisations, said they planned to lodge a court petition along with Palestinian landowners.

"The law constitutes a blow to the two-state solution", said French Foreign Minister Jean Marc Ayrault. "This law, in particular, perpetuates the existence of dozens of settlements and outposts and gives them a legal basis for future development".

In the almost 50 years that Israel has occupied the West Bank, many Jewish settlements have been illegally constructed on privately owned Palestinian land. This despite the fact that - before he supported it - Prime Minister Netanyahu anxious that it could land Israelis in court at the Hague.

Isaac Herzog, the opposition leader in the Israeli Knesset, had warned of repercussions of the legislation on Israel's security ahead of the vote.

Israel's attorney general has said it is unconstitutional and he will not defend it at the country's Supreme Court. "Nobody can legalise the theft of the Palestinian lands".

Worldwide law considers all settlements to be illegal, but Israel distinguishes between those it sanctions and those it does not, dubbed outposts.

The vote follows Israel's announcement last week that it plans to build a new settlement in the West Bank, despite a UN Security Council resolution in December condemning Israeli settlement construction.

He added that 75 countries and worldwide organizations had affirmed in January that the two-state solution was the preferable option for resolving the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

This week also saw "massive" house demolitions in Palestinian of Kalansuwa, Umm al-Hiram and East Jerusalem, which campaigners said had "upped the price" of dismantling Amona.

The new law is widely expected to be appealed to the Supreme Court on the grounds the Knesset does not have the authority to legislate property issues on land that is not part of Israel.

The comment came just a day after he met with French President Francois Hollande and claimed that the Knesset had violated global law by retroactively legalizing some 4,000 Jewish homes on contested property in Area C of Yehudah and Shomron.

Hours before Abbas' meeting with Hollande, Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, told The Associated Press that the bill is "putting the last nail in the coffin of the two-state solution".

However, a spokeswoman for May said the two leaders would also "talk about a range of security and worldwide issues, including the Middle East peace process".

Later, her spokeswoman said: "We want to be able to support finding a resolution, finding a path to the two-state solution".