The widely condemned outpost “Regularisation Bill” passed its final committee vote today, according to Israeli media, only necessitating one more round of votes for it to be adopted into Israeli law.
The bill is expected to retroactively legalise dozens of Israeli outposts – considered illegal under Israeli domestic law – built on private Palestinian land and confiscate thousands of dunams of Palestinian land.
According to The Times of Israel, the bill was approved by a slim vote of seven in favour and six against in the Knesset’s Law Committee and Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee, a special joint committee formed to push through the bill toward its final vote in the Knesset.
The controversial bill is expected on Monday to undergo its second and third readings, which are typically voted on in the same parliamentary meeting and would result in the bill becoming law.
The Times of Israel reported on Sunday that the bill states that any settlements built in the West Bank “in good faith” without knowledge that the land upon which it was built was privately owned by Palestinians could be officially recognised by Israel pending “minimal” proof of governmental support in its establishment.
The news outlet added that the Israeli government would be able to appropriate land if its Palestinian owners were not identified, or offer compensation packages to the landowners – whether by leasing the land or offering alternate plots of land.
Israeli ministers first advanced the bill in November, as it passed its first reading in December.
Both opponents and supporters of the bill have said the legislation would pave the way to annexing the majority of the West Bank.
Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has repeatedly stated that the bill contravenes both Israeli and international law and that the Israeli Supreme Court would likely strike it down, while Israeli officials have also reportedly expressed worry that the passage of the bill could land Israel in the International Criminal Court (ICC).
It is believed that the controversial bill had been strategically stalled until Donald Trump was officially sworn in as president of the United States, as he has come out as a vocal supporter of Israel’s illegal settlement policy.