Abbas: Bill Legalizing West Bank Outposts Would Bring Disaster

Palestinian spokesman says PA would turn to international forums to prevent the implementation of a bill that would retroactively legalize outposts built on privately owned Palestinian land.

Homes in the illegal West Bank outpost of Amona, July, 2015.
Olivier Fitoussi

The office of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday said that the approval of a bill advanced by Israel's governing coalition to legalize unauthorized outposts in the West Bank would lead the entire region to disaster.

On Sunday, a ministerial panel unanimously approved a bill that would retroactively legalize unauthorized Israeli outposts built on privately owned Palestinian land. The new bill distinguishes between ownership of land and the right to use land, which will enable the government to use it without owning it.

Abbas’ spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, said the Palestinian Authority roundly rejects the decisions and would turn to the UN Security Council and other international organizations to prevent the implementation of the bill, which he said could lead to dangerous escalation in the region.

The law would only apply to settlements where the government was involved in their establishment. Palestinians who can prove ownership of land are meant to receive financial compensation.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu initially opposed the bill after Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit said it contradicts international law and could not be defended at the High Court of Justice.

The Palestinians also criticized another bill being advanced in the Israeli parliament, to outlaw the use of loudspeakers during the Muslim call to prayer at mosques. Palestinian Religious Affairs Minister, Sheikh Youssef Ideiss, called the proposed ban religious war against Islam.