Netanyahu steps back from pro-settlements bill
BETHLEHEM: In an about-turn from his past support of a controversial bill which would see dozens of illegal Israeli outposts in the occupied West Bank retroactively legalised, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounced the so-called “Legalisation bill” on Sunday as an “irresponsible move”.
According to Israeli news outlet Ynet, Netanyahu blamed the bill for prompting UN Security Council Resolution 2334 last month, which condemned Israeli settlements and reaffirmed their complete illegality under international law.
“It’s possible that the UN Security Council resolution passed because of the advancement of this legislation,” Netanyahu said.
He nonetheless reiterated his commitment to settlement expansion.In November, Israeli ministers advanced the bill which would see vast tracts of privately-owned Palestinian land seized in addition to the Israeli government’s recognition of dozens of illegal settlement outposts.
Both opponents and supporters of the bill have said the legislation would pave the way to annexing the majority of the occupied West Bank.
The legislation passed its first reading in the Knesset, but still needs to pass its second and third readings to become law. It is believed the controversial bill had been strategically stalled until Donald Trump was officially sworn in as president of the US, as he has come out as a vocal supporter of the settlement policy.
Meanwhile, a vote on a bill seeking to annex the occupied West Bank settlement of Maale Adumim that was set to occur yesterday has been postponed following reported pressure from Trump’s administration.
Israel’s ultra-right Education Minister Naftali Bennett has been keen to introduce the bill, with its introduction having also been delayed until Trump’s inauguration.
Maale Adumim encompasses a large swathe of land deep inside the occupied West Bank.
Many Israelis consider it an Israeli suburban city of Jerusalem, despite it being located on occupied Palestinian territory in contravention of international law.
Calls to annex the massive settlement – to pave the way for the annexation of the majority of the occupied West Bank – have gained momentum among reactionary Israel’s legislators and ministers following the passage of UN Resolution 2334.
Netanyahu has been widely criticised for publicly claiming to advocate a two-state solution while simultaneously championing settlement policy to appeal to an increasingly right-wing government and Israeli public. – Ma’an
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presides over the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on Sunday.