Israel Justice Minister: Judea-Samaria Bill Expected to Pass Monday

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, a member of the Jewish Home party that is pushing to hold the vote, said the state would hire outside attorneys to defend the law if necessary.

According to Haaretz, the bill was drafted ostensibly to "regulate settlement in Judea and Samaria and allow its continued establishment and development".

In the past month, following the inauguration of US President Donald Trump, Israel has announced more than 6,000 new homes in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, seen as key parts of any future Palestinian state.

Netanyahu, who was in London Monday for talks with British Prime Minister Theresa May, had reportedly sought to delay the vote.

Netanyahu stressed the "international legal status of the land of Israel" upon visiting the place where the Balfour Declaration, which recognized Jewish national rights to historic Palestine, was written.

Israel's parliament was to finalize on Monday a bill that would retroactively legalize several thousand Israeli settler homes built on private Palestinian land in the West Bank.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was not present for the vote, as his scheduled return from a trip to the United Kingdom was delayed.

Netanyahu said he was looking forward to discussing the matter at the White House on February 15.

But the far-right Jewish Home party, a member of the coalition looking to draw voters from the traditional base of Netanyahu's Likud, pushed for the legislation after the forced evacuation of 330 settlers last week from an outpost built on private Palestinian land. The Jewish Home believes that with a friendly president in office, it is time for Netanyahu to lay out a clear policy for the West Bank, including the possible annexation of parts of the occupied territory. On Monday the Israeli leader said he had informed the Trump White House that the legislation would be voted upon.

The new law will allow Israel to legally seize Palestinian private land on which Israelis built without knowing it was private property or because the state allowed them to do so.

The bill could still be challenged, with Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman saying last week: "The chance that it will be struck down by the Supreme Court is 100 percent". The White House did not respond to requests for comment. "He can simply turn around and say, "I tried my hardest".

"The law will be voted upon and it has a majority", Shaked told participants of a cyber-security forum at Tel Aviv University, Arutz Sheva reported. "When I manage the country, I think about our national interest".

  • Joey Payne