Palestinians: Israel's New Land-grab Law Kills Two-state Solution

PLO leader Saeb Erekat says 'Israeli settlement enterprise negates peace and the possibility of the two-state solution' after Knesset passes contentious bill retroactively legalizing expropriation of privately owned Palestinian land.

The separation barrier near the Palestinian town Anata, near East Jerusalem.
The separation barrier near the Palestinian town Anata, near East Jerusalem. Emil Salman

 Palestinian officials decried the contentious bill passed by Israel's Knesset on Monday that would retroactively legalize the expropriation of privately owned Palestinian land, saying it could kill the chances to reach a peace deal along the lines of a two-state solution.

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"While thousands of Palestinians in besieged Gaza are being terrorized by Israeli bombardments, the Israeli parliament has just approved a law to legalize theft of Palestinian land. Looting is illegal," Dr. Saeb Erekat said, adding that "the Israeli settlement enterprise negates peace and the possibility of the two-state solution."

"Nobody should have doubts about the Israeli government’s will to destroy any chances for a political solution," Erekat continued, saying that "it is overdue time to stop treating Israel as a state above the law."

Dr. Husam Zomlot, a top strategic aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, blasted the law, saying "it embraces the agenda of radical settlers. The law that passed in the Knesset kills any chance left to the two-state solution and will bring about the collapse of the strategy embraced by the international community to solve the conflict."

"This law forces the Palestinian to rethink their relations with Israel, but first and foremost, it requires the world to work against Israel's destructiveness and that of Netanyahu's government that ignores the entire world and international law," Zomlot added, saying that "it seems like the Palestinians have lost now, in the short term, but in the long term we well all lose because of this policy."

The Joint List, the main Israeli Arab party, also blasted the law, saying "it legitimizes the crimes of the occupation, legitimizes the theft of Palestinian land, executes the diplomatic solution [to the conflict] and seals off any chance of peace."

Adalah - the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel said it would take the law to the high court. Suhad Bashara, a lawyer for the organization, said the law "severely infringe on Palestinians residents and refugees' right to private property."

The vote on the bill, which paves the way for legalizing illegal construction on Palestinian land throughout the West Bank was postponed about a month and a half ago. According to the most recent version of the bill obtained by Haaretz, in the first stage, enforcement measures against 16 settlements and outposts will be suspended for a period of one year from the publication of the law.

Over the course of the year, a decision will be made as to whether these lands can be expropriated.