A Knesset bill that would retroactively legalize settlement outposts built on private Palestinian land in the West Bank, approved on Sunday by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation, would be disastrous for Israel and would completely undermine its commitment to the two-state solution and the rule of law.
Approved over the objections of the Attorney General, the bill would effectively legitimize the illegal expropriation of Palestinian land and prevent court-ordered evacuation of illegal outposts from taking place. Its approval came shortly before Israel’s High Court of Justice rejected a petition by the Netanyahu government to postpone the deadline for the evacuation of the illegal West Bank outpost of Amona, which the entire settlement movement has mobilized to defend.
It is no accident that this bill is being moved forward this week, with the Amona situation looming and in the wake of the election of Donald Trump to the presidency. The bill’s chief proponent, Education Minister Naftali Bennett, said last week that “The victory of Trump is a huge opportunity for Israel to immediately announce that it renounces the idea of establishing Palestine in the heart of the country. The era of the Palestinian state is over.’’ Bennett and his movement have been buoyed by the Republican Party’s removal of the two-state solution from its platform, and by statements from Trump’s advisers that show support for settlement expansion.
The incoming US administration seems poised to sanction actions that could lead to the end of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, and to contempt for basic respect for the law and democratic institutions. According to Israel’s attorney general, “[T]he bill is inconsistent with the fundamental principles of the rule of law, in that it contradicts the duty of state authorities to respect the rulings of the judiciary in individual cases.”
We urge Prime Minister Netanyahu, leaders of the Knesset opposition and all responsible MKs to work to prevent the passage of this unacceptable legislation, and to ensure respect for the rulings of Israel’s High Court and for the basic rights of Palestinian landowners.