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Arab League decry Israeli bill legalizing settlements

Arab League decry Israeli bill legalizing settlements

An Israeli bill that gives immunity to thousands of illegal settlement homes in occupied West Bank has drawn widespread condemnations in the Arab world.

On Monday evening, the Knesset (Israeli parliament) retroactively legalized Jewish-only outposts built on Palestinian land in the West Bank, which are considered illegal under international law. 


The Cairo-based Arab League said the settlement bill shows the Israeli government’s hostility to peace. 


“[This law] is a cover to steal Palestinian land and property,” Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Abul-Gheit said in a statement released Tuesday. 


“It’s part of Israeli policies that aim to undermine all possibilities for achieving the two-state solution and setting up an independent Palestinian state,” he said. 


The Israeli bill was passed amid heightened anxiety in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict after a new U.S. administration under President Donald Trump took office last month. 


Since Trump was sworn in, Israel has announced three separate settlement plans that allow for thousands more housing units in the West Bank. 


Trump has also pledged to move the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which would mean effectively recognizing Israeli claims on the city, which Israel occupied in 1967. It would also deal a devastating blow to the two-state solution. 


’War crime’ 


The Arab Parliament said the Israeli settlement bill was tantamount to a “war crime”. 


The bill “is a brazen violation of international law and treaties,” Parliament Speaker Meshaal bin Faham Al-Sulami said in a statement. 


He said the pan-Arab body would pursue all diplomatic and legal channels to counter Israeli violations against the Palestinians. 


Egypt’s Foreign Ministry, for its part, warned that the bill undermines all chances for a regional peace. 


“It undermines all chances for the two-state solution and the rights of the Palestinian people to build their state with East Jerusalem as its capital,” the ministry said in a statement. 


Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat has earlier described the legislation as "legalizing theft", while Israeli daily Haaretz quoted anonymous diplomatic sources as saying that a scheduled EU-Israel summit had been put on hold. 


Israeli Attorney-General Avichai Mandelbilt is reportedly opposed to the law, saying it will increase the chances of Israel being brought before the International Criminal Court.