Sweden ‘deeply concerned’ over bill to legalize outposts
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Sweden ‘deeply concerned’ over bill to legalize outposts

Stockholm joins long list of those opposed to the proposed legislation on unauthorized building in West Bank

A mobile home in the outpost of Amona. (Noam Moskowitz/Flash90)
A mobile home in the outpost of Amona. (Noam Moskowitz/Flash90)

Sweden’s Foreign Ministry said Friday the country is “deeply concerned” about an Israeli bill to legalize unauthorized construction in the West Bank.

The so-called Regulation Bill, designed to avert to the court-ordered demolition of the West Bank outpost of Amona by December 25, passed a preliminary reading in the Knesset on Wednesday.

Amona, founded in 1995 on a hill near Ramallah in the central West Bank, is home to about 40 families. It is the largest of about 100 unauthorized outposts — built without permission but generally tolerated by the government — that dot the West Bank. The outpost, built on private Palestinian land, is due to be razed by a court-ordered deadline of December 25, prompting Israeli lawmakers to seek legal loopholes to stave off the demolition.

Sweden said passing the law would be contrary to “Israeli and international law,” and would “greatly undermine” the possibility of a two-state solution.

Sweden urged Israel not to adopt this legislation, adding that “it opens up for the legalization of a large number of settlements.”

Stockholm’s relations with Israel have been strained since the Social Democratic-led government in 2014 recognized Palestinian statehood, and Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom’s comments on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have elicited angry responses from Israeli officials.

Sweden's Minister for Foreign Affairs Margot Wallstrom gives a statement to the media in Stockholm, Sweden, on the Paris terrorist attacks, on November 14, 2015. (AFP/TT News Agency/Henrik Montgomery)
Sweden’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Margot Wallstrom gives a statement to the media in Stockholm, Sweden, on the Paris terrorist attacks, on November 14, 2015. (AFP/TT News Agency/Henrik Montgomery)

The Swedish comments echo similar criticism from the international community and from within Israel. The US also said it was it was “deeply concerned” and called the law “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.”

In voting for the bill, the government lawmakers also defied the opinion of Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, who said the legislation runs contrary to international law and would be indefensible in the High Court of Justice.

The Palestinian Authority said it would go to the UN Security Council to stop the move.

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