Israel Wants to Pass Bill to Retroactively Legalize Criminal Settlements

Israel (GPA) – The global community has been outraged over the past week as Israeli legislators try to pass a law to retroactively make their criminal settlements in the West Bank legal.

The settlement bill, on the verge of passing through the Israeli parliament, is being considered by many outside observers (as well as right wing Israeli proponents) as what essentially amounts to annexation of a large portion of Palestinian land. The bill would legalize over 4,000 settlement homes already built on stolen Palestinian land.

The Israeli parliament has already had a preliminary vote on the first reading of the bill on Wednesday night that passed by 58 to 51 votes. The bill is being called a “revolutionary moment for Israel” by right wing politicians who see it as a chance to take back land they feel is theirs.

Palestinians are obviously outraged saying the bill would take land that was promised to them in past negotiations. The legislation includes settlements in a region of sovereign Palestinian territory known as “area C.” This territory is Palestinian land but is already occupied by Israeli military and police but this would be the first time Israel’s parliament has ever legislated a law giving them jurisdiction of the area.

This essentially amounts to annexation of the region in the Palestinian’s eyes, and many Israelis don’t disagree but feel they’re entitled to this. Some Palestinian lawmakers have said this is so egregious that it essentially amounts to a declaration of war by Israel.

A Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) executive committee member; Haneen Ashrawi cited international law recognized by the ICC, to point out that if this bill were passed it would amount to a war crime.

Graffiti on the separation wall, By יורם שורק – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Although there has been no action by the international community; there has been strong words of condemnation.

The European Union issued a statement this week saying that if the bill “passes, this would be the first law adopted by the Knesset on the status of land in the West Bank, an occupied territory not under its jurisdiction. Senior members of the Israeli government have called this a step towards annexation of the West Bank.” The EU has already recognized that the settlements are illegal under international law.

The US is also condemning the bill saying it will essentially kill any hope of a two state solution and severely set back talks between Israel and Palestine. Despite supplying the equipment and money used to build and defend these settlements the US is only offering strong words, instead of any solid action.

Even as the state department admitted that the settlements are on “private Palestinian land” they still said they would decline to take any action, even something as weak as a veto in the United Nations. Obama is out of time to do much on the issue of Israel and it seems the Israelis feel the election of Donald Trump will give them more leeway in taking more Palestinian territory. It now seems that Palestinians are looking at losing a historic amount of ground in this decades long conflict and it seems they’re running low on places to turn for help.

This report prepared by Jim Carey for Geopolitics Alert.