Warning of major ‘legal problems’ over bill to legalise 66 settlement outposts

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Warning of major ‘legal problems’ over bill to legalise 66 settlement outposts

Israel’s deputy attorney-general said the legislation would have “international repercussions” after it passed through a Knesset committee

A settlement construction site in the West Bank (AP Photo/Oded Balilty, File)
A settlement construction site in the West Bank (AP Photo/Oded Balilty, File)

Israel’s deputy attorney-general has said Israeli politicians will expose the country to “significant legal problems” and “international repercussions” after voting through a bill to legalise 66 settlement outposts in the West Bank.

The bill, which passed through a Knesset committee on Sunday, represents a second stab for right-wingers, whose 2017 Bill legalising Jewish settlements built on private Palestinian land was frozen by Israel’s Supreme Court.

Their so-called Regulation Law 2 is aimed at many of the same illegal settlements but defines only those built on what is claimed to be government land. If passed, it would connect the hilltop communities to utilities such as water and electricity.

Deputy Attorney-General Raz Nizri warned the new Bill could have “significant repercussions and risks” after Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit said the original Bill violated the rights of Palestinians.

Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and Palestinian local councils petitioned the High Court against the law – known as Regulation Law 1 – and judges agreed that Israeli politicians had no authority to pass laws regarding private West Bank property under the jurisdiction of the military.

Pushing the new Bill is Jewish Home, the party led by former settler leader Naftali Bennett, who has vowed never to allow a Palestinian state of any description. It holds the balance of power in the Israeli parliament, as well as the justice and education ministries, and props up Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition government.

Many of the 66 illegal outposts targeted by the Bill stretch deep into the West Bank and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked this week hailed the move “from evacuation to normalisation,” calling the outposts “young settlements”.

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