Knesset passes draft bill to annex illegal West Bank settlements

Bethlehem/PNN/The Israeli Knesset approved in its preliminary reading a draft law allowing the application of Israeli law in the illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem, Israeli media reported.

Haaretz said 48 Members of the Knesset supported the bill while 39 voted against it on Wednesday.

MK, Bezalel Smotrich, of the right-wing Jewish Home party, who initiated the bill said the decision includes transferring petitions against illegal construction in the settlements to the administrative court instead of the Supreme Court.

“What is right for the residents of Tel Aviv is true to the residents of the settlements of Beit El and Kedumim,” he said, adding that “there is no justification for discussing petitions for construction in the Supreme Court.”

MK Tzipi Livni of the opposition Zionist camp described the bill as another step to deepen discrimination between Israelis and Palestinians in the territories.

“It is another law in the series of laws designed to create an apartheid state with two types of citizens without equality. It is against Judaism and against the Jewish state. We are obliged to fight against this law. I plan to do so,” she said.

Arab MK Jamal Zahalka, of the Joint List, told Haaretz that “the law is another step by the coalition aimed at annexing the settlements and applying Israeli law to them.”

The Palestinian official in charge of the settlement file in the northern part of the occupied West Bank, Ghassan Daghlas, said the Israeli government implements civil laws in the West Bank to install the settlement project, as if there is no occupation.

In an interview with Quds Press, Daghlas stressed that Israel seeks through this law to legitimise the settlements by legitimising 176 settlement outposts and annexing them to 184 settlements based on decisions issued by successive governments.

He warned that the law would have serious implications for the Palestinian cause because it paves the way to annex the occupied West Bank.