This means thousands of settlement units built on private Palestinian land became legal now
Israeli Knesset passed a law on Monday retroactively legalising 1,000s of settlements units built on privately owned Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank.
The law passed by a vote of 52 to 60 and backed by the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition.
Far-right Jewish Home party, a member of the coalition looking to draw voters from the traditional base of Netanyahu’s Likud, pushed for the legislation after the forced evacuation of 330 settlers last week from an outpost built on private Palestinian land.
With Netanyahu under police investigation on suspicion of abuse of office, Likud has been slipping in opinion polls. Opposing the law would have risked alienating his supporters and ceding ground to Jewish Home.
Last-minute appeals this week by Netanyahu to postpone the vote until after he meets US President Donald Trump in Washington on 15 February, were refused by Jewish Home, political sources said.
In London, where he met Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday, Netanyahu told Israeli reporters he did not want to delay the vote and that he sought only to update Washington ahead of time – which he said he did.
“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his extremist, racist coalition government are deliberately breaking the law and destroying the very foundations of the two-state solution and the chances for peace and stability,” PLO official Hanan Ashrawi said.
The UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov said in a statement that the law “will have far reaching legal consequences for Israel and greatly diminish the prospects for Arab-Israeli peace”.
However, Netanyahu may face little to no criticism from the White House, which has signalled a far softer approach to the settlement issue than that of the Obama administration.