1 of 2 | A general view of a Jewish housing being built in the Israeli settlement Ma'ale Adumim, West Bank. Palestinian councils and human rights organizations are objecting to a law, passed Monday in Israel's Kenesset, allowing the seizure of Palestinian-owned territory in the West Bank, for additional Israeli settlements. Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI | License Photo
Feb. 8 (UPI) -- Palestinian groups said Wednesday they will challenge a new law authorizing the seizure of West Bank territory to build settlements in Israel's courts.
The Israeli Knesset passed the Settlements Bill on Monday. The legislation allows the construction of 4,000 new homes for Israelis on privately owned Palestinian property in the West Bank, with compensation to the landowners. It also retroactively legalizes 50 outposts already built in the West Bank. The bill allows seizure of Palestinian territory for the construction of Israeli settlements, a breach of international law.
The matter of compensation is meant to avoid situations like the one in the Amona settlement, a community demolished earlier this week after exhaustive political and court maneuvers. The West Bank settlement was built on Palestinian land and ordered razed, with the residents moved to another settlement.
Adalah, a Palestinian-operated legal center in Israel, and the Jerusalem Legal Aid Center said in a joint statement they will file formal petitions on behalf of Palestinian governing councils in the West Bank to protest the law.
"The primary aim of this law is to 'validate' more illegal settlements in the West Bank," Adalah attorney Suhad Bishara said in the statement. "These political considerations directly contradict the U.N. Security Council resolution passed on Dec. 23, 2016, which reconfirmed the illegality of Israeli settlements."
Some world leaders have been critical of what they regard as Israeli expansion into the West Bank. They adhere to the belief that the territory could eventually become the nation of Palestine, and the settlements harm the possibility of a two-state solution in the Middle East. Several ministers were outspoken against the bill passed in the Israeli parliament.
"This law could exacerbate regional tensions," stated French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault. "The law further harms the two-state solution."
He added that 75 countries and international organizations had affirmed in January that the two-state solution was the preferable option for resolving the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.
British Minister for the Middle East Tobias Ellwood commented, "It is of great concern that the bill paves the way for significant growth in settlements deep in the West Bank, threatening the viability of the two-state solution."