Palestinians slam Regulation Bill: 'Israel trying to legalize criminal settlement agenda'
PA Foreign Ministry calls on the US to recognize a Palestinian state and support UN Security Council resolution against Israeli settlements, saying Regulation Bill comes 'in the context of the Israeli right and extreme right wing tightening its control and imposing its unjust and extremist ideology on the joints of the government in Israel.'
Palestinians have sharply criticized the Regulation Bill, which aims to legalize thousands of Jewish homes built on private Palestinian land in the West Bank.
The legislation passed in the Knesset in a preliminary reading by a vote of 60 to 49. It must pass three more readings before becoming law, the first of which is scheduled for Wednesday.
The Palestinian Authority's Foreign Ministry issued a harsh statement that the bill comes “in the context of the Israeli right and extreme right wing tightening its control and imposing its unjust and extremist ideology on the joints of the government in Israel.”
It called on the US to recognize the Palestinian state, and to “translate its positions into practical steps that will save the two-state solution of peace and opportunity.”
It then lists what those US steps should be: “This would include the immediate cessation of settlement building throughout, the US recognizing the State of Palestine, and supporting the draft resolution against settlements in the UN Security Council.”
Palestinian Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi had even harsher words. “Such a bill constitutes a legal travesty,” she said in a statement.
“Israel is persistently and willfully legislating outside the realm of international law in order to legalize its criminal settlement agenda, considered a war crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court,” Ashrawi added.
The bill was originally meant as a way to stave off the impending demolition of the outpost of Amona, near the West Bank community of Ofra and not far from Ramallah. The High Court of Justice has ruled that the outpost, which houses 40 families, is built on privately-owned Palestinian land, and must be dismantled by December 25.
Israeli officials have been trying to find a solution to Amona for months. One idea is to move the entire outpost to a neighboring hill, but that alternative has encountered both resistance from Amona's residents and legal issues.
The current Regulation Bill will not apply to Amona. The newer version of the bill says the state would allow Jewish Israelis who live on privately-owned Palestinian land to use the land, but not to own it. It also applies only to outposts that the government helped establish. Palestinians who can prove ownership of the land would receive compensation.
Criticism of the bill came from within Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s coalition as well as from outside. Benny Begin, a long time Likud parliamentarian and the son of former Prime Minister Menachem Begin, voted against the bill, saying it violates international law.
The attorney general had opposed the original version of the bill, saying that it violated international law, and even Netanyahu had said it would do diplomatic damage.
Article written by Linda Gradstein.
Reprinted with permission from The Media Line .