UN chief: Outpost law will have ‘far reaching legal consequences’
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UN chief: Outpost law will have ‘far reaching legal consequences’

Secretary-General Guterres says legislation a violation of international law; EU also slams the law

A man praying at the illegal outpost of Amona, with a view of West Bank settlements, on February 2, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
A man praying at the illegal outpost of Amona, with a view of West Bank settlements, on February 2, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A new Israeli law legalizing dozens of Jewish outposts built on private Palestinian land is in violation of international law, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Tuesday.

“This bill is in contravention of international law and will have far reaching legal consequences for Israel,” Guterres said in a statement.

The Knesset late Monday passed the so-called Regulation Law, which allows the appropriation of 16 parcels of private Palestinian land for Israeli settlement outposts in the West Bank, in a move the Palestinians condemned as a means to “legalize theft.”

The European Union also slammed the law.

“The EU urges the Israeli leadership to refrain from implementing the law and to avoid measures that further raise tensions and endanger the prospects for a peaceful solution to the conflict”, foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said in a statement.

The law crossed a “thick red line” toward annexation of the West Bank, the United Nations said earlier Tuesday.

UN envoy for the Middle East peace process Nickolay Mladenov said the bill set a “very dangerous precedent.”

UN Special Coordinator Nikolay Mladenov, February 9, 2015 (CC BY-SA Ottokars, Wikipedia)
UN Special Coordinator Nikolay Mladenov, February 9, 2015 (CC BY-SA Ottokars, Wikipedia)

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

“That crosses a very thick red line.”

Some members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing government have called for the annexation of much of the West Bank, a move that critics say would end any hope of a two-state solution with an independent Palestinian state.

“[The law] opens the potential for the full annexation of the West Bank and therefore undermines substantially the two-state solution,” Mladenov added.

He also raised the possibility the law could open Israel up to potential prosecution at the International Criminal Court, a risk the Israel’s attorney general has warned of, as has Netanyahu despite his support of the bill.

The new law will allow Israel to appropriate Palestinian private land on which Israelis had built outposts without knowing it was private property, if they received government support for the move.

The Palestinian landowners will be compensated financially or with other land.

The law could still be challenged, with Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman saying last week it was certain to be struck down by the High Court.

Mladenov called for strong international condemnation of the legislation but declined to criticize the United States after President Donald Trump’s administration refused to comment on it.

“I think that is a very preliminary statement,” Mladenov said. “Obviously they do need to consult, this is a new administration that has just come into office and they should be given the time and the space to find their policies.”

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault addresses a session of questions to the government at the National Assembly in Paris on February 1, 2017. (AFP Photo/Patrick Kovarik)
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault addresses a session of questions to the government at the National Assembly in Paris on February 1, 2017. (AFP Photo/Patrick Kovarik)

France also voiced its strong disapproval of the law on Tuesday, with French Foreign Minister Jean Marc Ayrault saying in a statement that “the law constitutes a blow to the two-state solution.”

“This law in particular perpetuates the existence of dozens of settlements and outposts and gives them a legal basis for future development,” Ayrault said, predicting that the bill “will likely intensify tensions in the area.”

“I call on Israel to respect its international obligations and to turn back from this law,” Ayrault said.

“This law in particular perpetuates the existence of dozens of settlements and outposts and gives them a legal basis for future development,” Ayrault said, adding that it violates December’s United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, which labeled Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as a “flagrant violation under international law” with “no legal validity.”

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