Israel’s Prime Minister has vowed to continue the construction of Jewish settlements in all occupied Palestinian territory. Benjamin Netanyahu was responding to the angry reactions of settlers and far-right parties at the Knesset’s refusal to ratify a law that would have legitimised the construction of settlements on privately owned Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank.
In a statement issued by his office commenting on the Knesset decision, Netanyahu said, “The West Bank is the land of our ancestors, and in this place our identity was crystallised, and Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, and I say that anywhere in the world.” He called the West Bank “the fatherland” and stressed that his decision to transfer some settlement units built on private land north of Bethlehem is something that his government is not happy with. The residents of these units will be moved to the settlement of Bethel along with 300 new settler families.
Netanyahu also announced his decision to set up a ministerial committee to deal with settlement affairs “to ensure the implementation of Israeli policy regarding the reinforcement and strengthening of the settlements”.
The Knesset rejected the “settlement bill”, under which Jewish settlers are allowed to build on private Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank. Sixty-nine members voted against the bill, with 22 supporting it. All Israeli settlements are regarded as illegal under international law.