UN says new Israeli settlement law crosses ‘thick red line’

UN fears new bill opens potential for annexation of large parts of West Bank

RAMALLAH - A new Israeli law legalising dozens of Jewish outposts built on private Palestinian land crossed a "thick red line" towards annexation of the occupied West Bank, the United Nations said Tuesday.
The Israeli parliament passed the law late Monday allowing the appropriation of private Palestinian land for Jewish settler outposts, in a move the Palestinians said was a means to "legalise theft".
UN envoy for the Middle East peace process Nickolay Mladenov said the bill set a "very dangerous precedent."
"This is the first time the Israeli Knesset (parliament) legislates in the occupied Palestinian lands and particularly on property issues," he says.
"That crosses a very thick red line."
Some members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing government have called for the annexation of much of the West Bank, a move that would end any hope of an independent Palestinian state.
"(The law) opens the potential for the full annexation of the West Bank and therefore undermines substantially the two-state solution," Mladenov added.
He also raised the possibility the law could open Israel up to potential prosecution at the International Criminal Court, a threat the Jewish state's attorney general has warned of.
The new law will allow Israel to appropriate Palestinian private land on which Israelis built outposts without knowing it was private property or because the state allowed them to do so.
Palestinian owners will be compensated financially or with other land.
The law could still be challenged, with Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman saying last week it was likely to be struck down by the Supreme Court.
Mladenov called for strong international condemnation of the legislation but declined to criticise the United States after President Donald Trump's administration refused to comment on it.
"I think that is a very preliminary statement," Mladenov said. "Obviously they do need to consult, this is a new administration that has just come into office and they should be given the time and the space to find their policies."