Bill to legalize West Bank outposts to be brought to Knesset

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A controversial bill that would legalize West Bank outposts built on Palestinian land will be brought back to the Knesset for final votes.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Sunday at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting that the Regulation or Normalization Bill will be voted on this week, as early as Monday

“Tomorrow we will submit to the Knesset what is being called “the normalization law”. The law is designed to normalize the status of Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria once and for all and prevent recurrent attempts to harm the settlement enterprise,” Netanyahu told the Cabinet.

The bill must be approved by a joint Knesset Law, Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, and requires a second and third reading in the Knesset Plenum in order to become law.

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The bill would legalize about 4,000 housing units in 55 outposts in the West Bank on land that is claimed as privately owned by Palestinians. It would allow the Israeli government to recognize construction built with government assistance and in good faith — meaning those outposts whose builders were not aware they were constructing on private land. If the original owners of the land are known, they would be eligible to receive financial compensation from the government.

A section of the bill that would allow the government to act against a Supreme Court ruling to raze the Amona outpost reportedly could also be added back in to the legislation.

Consideration of the bill by the Knesset had been suspended after it passed an initial reading in early December, in order to wait for the end of the Obama administration and the beginning of the Trump administration, which is seen as more friendly toward Israel in general and settlements in particular.

Israel’s Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has maintained that the bill is in violation of local and international law and has said the Supreme Court would likely void it.