Defying International Law, Israeli Bill to Retroactively Legalize Settlement Outposts

Amona, an illegal Israeli outpost built in the occupied Palestinian West Bank. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons, file)

The Israeli parliament, Knesset approved on Wednesday a preliminary reading of a controversial “formalization bill” which would retroactively legalize an Israeli outpost slated for evacuation.

This followed a recent controversy regarding a decision to demolish the illegal illegal Amona outpost, where at least 40 Israeli families reside, in the central occupied West Bank. Amona was slated for demolition in 2008 after the Israeli Supreme Court ruled in favor of Palestinians whose private land the settlement outpost was built on.

The Supreme Court dismissed a petition by the Israeli government to postpone evacuating Amona on Sunday, ruling that the evacuation be carried out by Dec. 25 as previously ordered by the court.

However, the “formalization bill,” which would retroactively legalize all of the some 232 settlement outposts in the West Bank, has been pushed forward by right-wing Israeli politicians to prevent the displacement of Amona settlers.

The bill has garnered large amounts of criticism, as Israel’s attorney general said that the bill contravened international law and that there was no legal precedent for the expropriation of privately owned land.

While the draft law would allow land to be “leased” to settlers, rights group Peace Now said on Monday that “the idea of the lease is simply a bluff meant to evade land expropriation. History in the region has shown that what is temporary becomes permanent. Thus, the leasing means a de facto expropriation.”

Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that MKs voted on three different versions of the bill which all passed, with respectively 58 votes to 50, 57 to 52, and 58 votes to 51.

Meanwhile, the head of the Arab Joint List coalition, Ayman Odeh, said that the draft legislation was “a clear message to the world that it does not see the occupation as temporary, and it does not want an agreed-upon solution, rather than to continue warfare and occupation.”

“This law, which makes theft and robbery legal, proves again that the occupation cannot exist at the same time as the rule of law,” The Jerusalem Post further quoted Odeh as saying.

While the settler outposts constructed in Palestinian territory are considered illegal by the Israeli government — despite authorities commonly retroactively legalizing the outposts — each of the some 196 government-approved Israeli settlements scattered across the West Bank are also constructed in direct violation of international law.

(Ma’an, PC, Social Media)

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