The Israeli Knesset on Monday passed a law legalizing the expropriation of privately owned Palestinian land.
Critics warned that the move would mark the first step toward the annexation of parts of the West Bank, while paving the way for possible future prosecution of Israel for war crimes.
In a late-evening vote, MPs ignored warnings from opposition lawmakers and the UN and passed second and third readings of the Regularization Bill, which will legalize illegal settler outposts scattered around the occupied West Bank.
The so-called Regulation Bill went before lawmakers at the Knesset and received 60 votes in favor opposed to just 52 against in its third reading.
International law views all settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as illegal for they are built on private land on which Palestinians have claims.
In the run-up to the law’s passage, Palestinian and Israeli critics described it as a land grab and said it would be viewed as a step toward the annexation of parts of the West Bank.
Earlier on Monday, Nicky Mladenov, the UN’s special coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, warned that the law would “have far-reaching legal consequences for Israel and greatly diminish the prospects for Arab-Israeli peace”.
The vote comes at a pivotal time for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the calculus for which has changed since the swearing in last month of Donald Trump, who has promised to be the most pro-Israel US president ever and named supporters of the settlements as his Israel advisers.
In the debate leading up to the vote, Isaac Herzog, the center-left opposition leader, warned that the law could open the way for prosecutions of Israel for war crimes at the International Criminal Court.
“The train leaves from here [and] will only stop at The Hague,” Herzog said in remarks quoted by the Israeli paper Haaretz before the vote. “Its cars will carry international indictments against Israeli and Jewish soldiers and officers. This indictment will be signed by the prime minister of Israel.”
Herzog also said the legislation amounted to “de facto annexation”.
Avichai Mandelblit, Israel’s attorney-general, warned Netanyahu before the vote that he deemed the bill to be unconstitutional and was not prepared to defend it if it was challenged before Israel’s Supreme Court.
The UN in December passed a resolution condemning settlements and demanding that Israel halt illegal settlement activity immediately.
On 23 November 2019, EuroPal Forum and Middle East Monitor co-hosted a conference at the Holiday Inn Bloomsbury in London on the relations between Europe and Palestine. A first of its kind, the conference brought together individuals at the forefront of discourse on Palestine in
As the European Court of Justice (ECJ) rules that European Union countries must identify products made in Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, MEMO and EuroPal Forum are hosting a conference to discuss the EU’s position on major issues related to the occupat