Israel vows to 'legalize' occupied settlements before Trump leaves
Israel has vowed to "legalize" dozens of illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank, which are part of the Palestinian territories, before outgoing US President Donald Trump leaves the White House in January.
Addressing the Knesset on Wednesday evening, Israel’s minister of settlement affairs Tzachi Hanegbi announced the news, saying he had agreed with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to present a plan in the coming weeks.
“I’m pleased to announce for the first time that we agreed that together we will formulate a draft resolution for” the cabinet “to promote all legal moves at our disposal in order to legalize [West Bank outposts],” Hanegbi said, the Palestinian Information Center reported.
He affirmed that the proposal would be advanced while the incumbent American president is still in office.
With Trump set to hand over the White House in January, Netanyahu has faced pressure to take advantage of the outgoing administration’s support of settlements to authorize illegal outposts.
Responding to the announcement, Naftali Bennett, the head of the right-wing Yamina alliance, said that the plan would be a “historic” achievement. However, he stressed that “the only test will be in the implementation.”
According to Bezalel Smotrich, Bennett’s deputy, these outposts are home to some 20,000 Israeli settlers.
More than 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds.
Since Trump took office in December 2016, Israel has stepped up its settlement expansion activities in defiance of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, which pronounced settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds “a flagrant violation under international law.”
All Israeli settlements are illegal under international law as they are built on occupied land.