The US State Department said Monday it was “deeply concerned” by the possibility of Israeli legislation to legalize outposts in the West Bank.
Spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau told reporters that the US was “deeply concerned about the advancement of legislation that would allow for the legalization of illegal Israeli outposts located on private Palestinian land.
“If this law were enacted it would pave the way for the legalization of dozens of illegal outposts deep in the West Bank,” Trudeau said. “This would represent an unprecedented and troubling step that is inconsistent with prior Israeli legal opinion and also break longstanding Israeli policy of not building on private Palestinian land.
“This legislation would be a dramatic advancement of the settlement enterprise, which is already gravely endangering the prospects for a two-state solution,” she added.
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit on Monday sent a stern warning to legislators seeking to circumvent a High Court ruling to evacuate the contested West Bank outpost of Amona, saying “We cannot accept legislation that hinders decisions of the High Court of Justice.”
Earlier in the day the High Court of Justice denied a request by the government to postpone Amona’s evacuation. But some coalition lawmakers, in an effort to prevent the evacuation, have been advancing a bill that would recognize certain illegal building in the West Bank. And on Sunday several ministers defied Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and gave their backing to the effort.
Mandelblit, who has previously denounced the bill as legally indefensible, said Monday that while he was “committed to assisting the government” in enacting its policies “and finding legal solutions to complex problems…We cannot accept solutions that are outside the boundaries of the law, and we cannot accept legislation that hinders Supreme Court rulings.”
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and Education Minister Naftali Bennett of the Jewish Home party brought the so-called Regulation Bill to a vote Sunday despite efforts by the prime minister to delay, and repeated statements from Mandelblit that the legislation runs contrary to international law and would be indefensible in the High Court of Justice.
The measure still must pass the Knesset, but Sunday’s vote means it will enjoy coalition support as it moves through the stages of legislation.
The bill will likely be brought to its first reading in the plenum on Wednesday.
The High Court, in its ruling Monday, denied a request by the government to postpone the evacuation of the outpost by seven months.
“The evacuation must occur before December 25,” the court said in its ruling, the latest twist in an incendiary battle between Israel’s judiciary and the right-wing governing coalition. “The court rejects the delay requested by the state.”