Here is everyone who has condemned Israel’s law legalizing settlements on Palestinian land

Published February 8th, 2017 - 11:07 GMT
 Kiryat Arba Jewish settlement on the outskirts of Hebron (Hazem Bader/AFP)
Kiryat Arba Jewish settlement on the outskirts of Hebron (Hazem Bader/AFP)

In a vote on Monday, the Israeli Knesset approved a bill retroactively legalizing 4000 settlements built illegally on Palestinian land.

Sixty members of Israel’s 120-seat Knesset may have voted for the controversial law, but beyond Israeli political circles, it has drawn widespread condemnation.

To give an indication of just how unpopular the decision is, here are just some of the local and international figures who have so far expressed their criticism.

Palestinians and Israelis

Let’s begin with the most predictable: Palestinian politicians were quick to reject the unfair and illegal move.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has called the law “an assault against our people,” adding that it is illegal and “obviously against the wishes of the international community.”

Hamas, the Islamist organization that governs Gaza, described the law as “organized terrorism” in a statement on their website, adding that Israel’s “presence on any inch of Palestinian soil is illegitimate.”

Less expectedly, a number of high-ranking Israeli officials have also opposed the law, including Israel’s attorney-general, Avihai Mandelblit, who has refused to defend it in the Supreme Court, calling it “unconstitutional”.

Meanwhile, Dan Meridor, a former minister with the ruling Likud party, expressed his opposition in a piece for Haaretz, saying: “The Knesset was elected by Israelis and legislates for them. The Arabs of [the occupied Palestinian territories] did not vote for the Knesset, and it has no authority to legislate for them.”

United Nations

United Nations officials have been among those from the international community to express their disapproval of the vote. Only in December, the UN Security Council passed a resolution condemning the construction of new settlements on Palestinian land.

Speaking to AFP, the UN envoy for the Middle East peace process, Nickolay Mladenov, suggested that the bill “crosses a very thick red line”, warning against the “very dangerous precedent” set by the new legislation.

“This is the first time the Israeli Knesset legislates in the occupied Palestinian lands and particularly on property issues,” he said.

Europe

France’s President Francois Hollande, who met with Abbas in Paris on Tuesday, was among the first to respond, saying: “I want to believe that Israel and its government will reconsider this law.”

The British Minister for the Middle East, Tobias Ellwood, added his voice to the collective expression of condemnation, saying that: “It is of great concern that the bill paves the way for significant growth in settlements in the West Bank, threatening the viability of the two-state solution.”

Germany has also bashed Israel over the so-called “land-grab” law. "Our trust in the Israeli government's commitment to the two-state solution has been fundamentally shaken ," a German Foreign Ministry Spokesman said on Wednesday.

Middle East

Back in the region, Jordan and Turkey quickly denounced the decision. The Jordanian Minister for Media Affairs Mohammed Momani indicated that Israeli “provocative acts would destroy any hope for the two state solution and peace in the region, fuel the anger of Muslims and drag the region to more violence and extremism.”

But no United States?

So far, any American statement with regard to the bill is conspicuous by its absence. Israel’s greatest ally has indicated it will withhold comment until Israel's Supreme Court rules on an appeal launched against the law, which could still halt it in its tracks.

Trump’s rhetoric has hinted that his administration will move away from previous US policy on Israel, offering support to settlement building activity and to moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. However, the reality of his policy is more blurred.

In a statement last week, White House press secretary Sean Spicer indicated that while “we don’t believe the existence of settlements is an impediment to peace, the construction of new settlements or the expansion of existing settlements beyond their current borders may not be helpful in achieving that goal.”

RA

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