Israeli Knesset to vote on legalising thousands of settler homes

International law considers all West Bank settlements illegal

JERUSALEM - Israel's parliament began discussions Monday on the final adoption of a bill retroactively legalising thousands of homes on private Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank.
The text has alarmed the international community and supporters of an independent Palestinian state.
It is expected to be voted on on Tuesday, with adoption seen as likely.
The law would retroactively legalise at least 3,921 homes built in contravention of Israeli law, according to the anti-settlement organisation Peace Now.
Israeli law distinguishes between settlements it considers legal and so-called "outposts", but the bill would legalise a large number of the latter.
Critics say it would be the first time Israel applies its laws to land it recognises as Palestinian, paving the way for annexation.
Palestinian owners would be compensated financially or with land elsewhere.
The attorney general has told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the bill would be illegal, according to media reports.
International law considers all Israeli settlements in the West Bank, the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, illegal and they are seen as a major obstacle to peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
Following Donald Trump's inauguration, Netanyahu, who leads what is considered to be the most right-wing government in Israeli history, has greenlighted thousands of new settlement homes in the West Bank and annexed East Jerusalem.
Trump has indicated he will be far more supportive of Israeli settlement building than his predecessor Barack Obama, who criticised them throughout his premiership.
The proposal debated Monday was approved by parliament for the first time in early December.
At the time Netanyahu suggested the proposal be shelved until Trump took over, according to media reports which the government has not denied.
The text was examined on Monday in a parliamentary committee before being submitted to MPs for its second and third readings.