CMEP Bulletin: If Settlers Build It, Israel Will Declare It Legal

CMEP Bulletin: If Settlers Build It, Israel Will Declare It Legal

Israel’s Alarming Settlement Bill [The New York Times]
Israeli lawmakers have given preliminary approval to a bill that would retroactively legalize settlements built on private Palestinian land in the West Bank. The bill is intended to prevent the court-ordered demolition of an illegal outpost by Dec. 25. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opposes the bill and Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has said it violates international law. The fact that it has cleared a major hurdle represents a gain for pro-settlement Israelis.

CMEP_logo.jpgPolicy Brief: Israel’s ‘Formalization’ Law [Foundation for Middle East Peace (FMEP)]
FMEP’s Mitchell Plitnick writes, “On Sunday the Israeli cabinet unanimously passed a bill that would legalize settlement outposts in the occupied West Bank that were built on privately owned Palestinian land. If passed by the Knesset, the law could potentially be used to raise the status of many outposts all over the West Bank to those of settlements that are legal under Israeli law (all settlements beyond the Green Line are illegal according to international law). That would be a tremendous setback to the already dimming prospects of an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank, and to the two-state solution.”

Israel’s Brewing Settlements Law Could Stir Problems in Washington [The Washington Institute]
According to Middle East analyst David Makovsky, “A unique set of circumstances has led Israel to press forward on a bill that could legalize an unprecedented seventy-five settlement outposts outside the West Bank security barrier. While the legislation passed its first of three readings in the Knesset on November 16, Israel’s Supreme Court is expected to challenge it, and Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has publicly declared that he will not defend it, arguing that it would be contrary to international law as it seeks to retroactively enable construction on private Palestinian land.”

US: Israeli Settlement Bill “Unprecedented and Troubling Step” [Jerusalem Post]
The United States harshly condemned Israeli legislative attempts to authorize some 2,000 illegal settler homes on private Palestinian property. ‘We’re deeply concerned,” said Elizabeth Trudeau, the US State Department’s Director for Press Operations. “[The legislation] could pave the way for the legalization of dozens of illegal outposts deep in the West Bank. [It] would represent an unprecedented and troubling step that is inconsistent with prior Israeli legal opinion and breaks non-standing Israeli policy of not building on private Palestinian land,” Trudeau told reporters in Washington.

Click here to read the full Churches for Middle East Peace Bulletin, including links to these stories.