Israeli Prime Benjamin Netanyahu is seeking a vote at the Knesset (parliament) aimed at legalizing all wildcat settlements built on occupied Palestinian lands.
A statement by Netanyahu’s office said a bill would be sent to the parliament later on Monday “to allow us to regularize once and for all settlements in (the occupied West Bank) and prevent repeated attempts to damage them.”
Wildcat settlements are those built by Israeli settlers without Tel Aviv’s permission.
The prime minister further said the proposed law is “designed to normalize the status of” the Judea and Samaria settlements in the West Bank.
According to the Peace Now rights group, some 797 of the wildcat structures are located in 55 outposts. It warned that the bill’s passage would help pave the way for the eventual authorization of those outposts.
Netanyahu has thrown his weight behind such a law amid threats by the hardline so-called Jewish Home Party that it would ditch the premier’s coalition if the bill did not become law.
Also emboldening Tel Aviv in its settlement activities has been the recent inauguration of US President Donald Trump, who has variously indicated he would be more lenient towards Tel Aviv than his predecessor Barack Obama.
Last year, the Obama administration stopped short of vetoing a United Nations Security Council resolution that threw the legality of Israeli settlements into question and urged the regime to stop land grab.
More than half a million Israelis live in over 120 settlements built since Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank in 1967.
Israel’s land grab has skyrocketed since Netanyahu took office in 2009, with an additional 15,000 additional settlers moving into the settlement units build in the occupied West Bank last year alone.
Whether authorized by authorities in Tel Aviv or not, all settlements in Jerusalem al-Quds and West Bank are viewed by the international community as illegal and subject to the Geneva Conventions, which forbid constructions on occupied territory.