Outpost bill heading for final vote in the Knesset

(JTA) – A controversial bill that would legalize some settlements built on private Palestinian land is expected to be put to a final vote in the Knesset.

Coalition chair David Bitan told The Times of Israel that the Knesset vote on the so-called outpost bill would “definitely” take place Monday. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was in London on Monday for talks with his British counterpart, Theresa May, reportedly had sought to delay the vote.

The bill, which would legalize outposts unwittingly built on Palestinian land in the West Bank, has drawn sharp condemnation. Leaders of the Zionist Union and Yesh Atid, the second and fourth largest parties in the Knesset, respectively, have both warned against its passage. The pro-settlement Jewish Home party supports the measure.

Israel’s attorney general, Avichai Mandelblit, has said the bill violates local and international law and would likely be overturned by the Supreme Court.

On Thursday, U.S. President Donald Trump, in his first statement on Israeli settlements since taking office, said construction of new settlements “may not be helpful” in reaching a peace agreement, though he denied that existing settlements are impediments to a deal.

Trump and Netanyahu are scheduled to meet Feb. 15 in Washington.

Following his meeting with May, Netanyahu denied he had sought to delay the vote and said he had informed the White House that he intended to put the bill to a vote, Haaretz reported.

“I never said that I want to delay the vote on this law,” Netanyahu said. “I said that I will act according to our national interest. That requires that we do not surprise our friends and keep them updated – and the American administration was been updated. This process was important for me, because we are trying to act this way, especially with very close friends. I act responsibility and not according to different dictates and I will arrive [in Israel] tonight to vote on the law.”

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