A bill seeking to legalize 65 outposts in Judea and Samaria passed its preliminary Knesset reading on Wednesday, with a vote of 60 to 40. Neither Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or Defense Minister Benny Gantz were present for the vote.

The bill was presented by the Land of Israel Lobby, chaired by M.K. Bezalel Smotrich, who welcomed the vote, saying, “A huge majority of the elected Knesset members support the moral and humane process of regulating the young settlements.”

Joint Arab List chairman M.K. Aymen Odeh denounced the vote as approving a form of de facto annexation.

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.

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