(JNS.org) In a historic and potentially contentious move, the Israeli Knesset voted 60-52 Monday evening to legalize some 4,000 settlement outposts in Judea and Samaria.
“Our determination paid off,” said Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home), whose party led the drive for the legislation, which was initially conceived in December following an agreement to approve the Israeli High Court’s decision to demolish the Amona outpost, a demolition that was carried out last week.
“To our friends in the opposition who are surprised that a nationalist government would pass a bill in favor of the settlements—that’s democracy,” he added.
The passage of the bill, which has been heavily criticized by left-wing opposition lawmakers in Israel and by the international community, retroactively legalizes settlement outposts that sit on private Palestinian land and offers compensation to the landowners.
Known as the “Regulation Bill,” the legislation overturns nearly 40 years of Israeli judicial rulings against the construction of homes on private Palestinian land. Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandeblit has said the bill is unconstitutional and would not withstand legal challenges.
“This vote is not about whether we are with or against the settlers, it’s about what the state of Israel needs,” opposition leader Member of Knesset Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union) said. “This government is passing a bill that is an acute danger to the state of Israel.”
Herzog also said the bill is the first step toward de facto annexation of Judea and Samaria.
“This legislation is de facto annexation. Our opposition to the law stems from our opposition to annexation...We have just a few more minutes to stop this terrible train before it leaves here and stops at The Hague,” he said, referring to the home of the International Criminal Court.