Illegal Israeli settlement (Photo: Creative Commons)
Israeli’s move to legalise thousands of settler homes in the occupied West Bank has been slammed by the European Union and the United Nations.
High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, said if Israel implemented the law which was passed on February 6 would set a dangerous precedent.
“Such settlements constitute an obstacle to peace and threaten the viability of a two-state solution, it would further entrench a one-state reality of unequal rights, perpetual occupation and conflict,” she said, highlighting that the EU sees Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories as illegal.
The bill, which was passed 60-52 in 120 member Knesset (Israeli Parliament), allows the state to declare private Palestinian land on which settlements or outposts were built, “in good faith or at the state’s instruction” as Government property, and deny its owners the right to use or hold those lands until there is a diplomatic resolution of the status of the territories.
The bill will retroactively legalises about 4,000 illegal settler homes built on privately owned Palestinian land.
US President, Donald Trump, has signalled a softer approach to the settlement issue than that of the previous administration.
UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, said the move went against international law and would have legal consequences for Israel.
“The Secretary-General insists on the need to avoid any actions that would derail the two-state solution,” his spokesman said in a statement, referring to longstanding international efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
French President, Francois Hollande, also added his voice to the condemnation, saying it paved the way for the annexation of the occupied Palestinian territories.
“I think that Israel and its Government could revise this text,” Hollande said at news conference after meeting Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas.
Abbas threatened to halt security coordination with Israel over a series of steps boosting the settlement enterprise in the West Bank.
“If the colonisation continues, I would have no other choice [but to halt security coordination]; it would not be my fault,” Abbas told France’s Senate during a visit to Paris.
Most countries consider the settlements, built on land captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East War, illegal and an obstacle to peace as they reduce and fragment the territory Palestinians seek for a viable state in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.
Though the legislation was backed by Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition, it has raised tensions in the Government. Israel’s Attorney-General said the law is unconstitutional and that he will not defend it at the Supreme Court.
Though the White House refused to comment on the bill, the Trump administration has signalled a far softer approach to the settlement issue than that of the Obama administration, which routinely denounced settlement announcements.