The Arab League accused Israel on Tuesday of “stealing the land” of Palestinians after the Knesset passed a contentious law legalizing dozens of Jewish outposts in the West Bank, joining Turkey, Jordan and others in strongly condemning the legislation.
“The law in question is only a cover for stealing the land and appropriating the property of Palestinians,” said the head of the Cairo-based League, Ahmed Aboul Gheit.
The Regulation Law, passed by a vote of 60 to 52 in a late-night Monday session, retroactively legalizes West Bank outposts that were unknowingly built on private Palestinian land. It paves the way for Israel to recognize some 4,000 illegally built settler homes. Palestinian owners will be compensated financially or with other land. The law will be challenged before Israel’s High Court.
Palestinians have reacted harshly to the measure.
“Nobody can legalize the theft of the Palestinian lands. Building settlements is a crime, building settlements is against all international laws,” Palestinian Authority Tourism and Antiquities Minister Rula Maayaa said Tuesday. “I think it is time now for the international community to act concretely to stop the Israelis from these crimes.”
Aboul Gheit on Tuesday slammed the legislation as a continuation of “Israeli policies aimed at eliminating any possibility of a two-state solution and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.”
Jordan and Turkey, two of the few Middle Eastern countries to have diplomatic ties with Israel, also strongly denounced the law as counterproductive to reaching a two-state solution to the conflict.
Amman slammed the “provocative” legislation as a measure that could “lead the region into further violence and torpedo any peace effort,” Information Minister Mohamed Momani said, quoted by the official news agency Petra.
“The Israeli government by virtue of being an occupying power is required to maintain the status quo,” Momani said. The legislation is liable to “inflame the feelings of Muslims and drag the region to more violence and extremism.”
Meanwhile, Turkey’s foreign ministry said Ankara “strongly condemn[ed] Israeli Parliament’s adoption of a law that gives approval to various settlements consisting of 4,000 units built on the private property of the Palestinians.”
The ministry’s statement, issued as Turkish and Israeli officials met in Tel Aviv to boost newly re-established diplomatic ties, said the Israeli policy was “unacceptable” as it contradicted UN Security Council resolutions and was “destroying the basis for the two-state solution.”
The controversial Regulation Law has been condemned by the previous US administration of Barack Obama, the European Union, the United Nations and Israel’s own attorney general, Avichai Mandelblit, who has warned that it marks the first time Israeli legislation explicitly affirms government support for the settlements, and would openly curtail property rights of Palestinians in the West Bank in a way that contravenes the protections granted to occupied populations under the Fourth Geneva Convention.
The Palestinians have condemned the law as an attempt to “legalize theft” of Palestinian land.
“This is an escalation that would only lead to more instability and chaos. It is unacceptable. It is denounced and the international community should act immediately,” said Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
US President Donald Trump has signaled a far more accepting approach to settlements. His administration on Monday refused to comment directly on the Regulation Law, and said that it needed to “have the chance to fully consult with all parties on the way forward.”
AP contributed to this report