The bill still requires more votes before being implemented and will not apply to the Gaza Strip.
The Arab League has condemned the Israeli Knesset’s approval of a proposal to amend the “disengagement plan” on Tuesday, which would enable Israelis to return to four settlements in the West Bank which were evacuated in 2005.
The vote entailed cancelling some of the provisions of the law, paving the way for settlers to remain in the settlements under Israel’s ongoing settlement expansion policies in Palestine.
According to Qatar’s news agency (QNA), Saeed Abu Ali, Assistant Secretary-General for Palestine and the Occupied Arab Territories Sector at the Arab League, warned of the latest Israeli move.
Abu Ali noted that the step comes under Israel’s intensifying settlement activities, holding the occupation’s authorities responsible for their policies and repercussions.
Advanced by the Knesset, the bill would pave the way for the legalisation of settlement outposts in the northern occupied West Bank. The settlements are also illegal under Israeli law given their illegality under international law.
The bill still requires more votes before being implemented and will not apply to the Gaza Strip territory, which was also evacuated in 2005.
Last month, an Israeli ministerial committee approved an initial plan to cancel the so-called disengagement legislation, which came into effect under former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
17 illegal Israeli settlements
Palestine’s foreign ministry also condemned the Knesset’s approval of the first reading of the draft law.
It further called on the United States, which pumps $3.8 billion into Israel on an annual basis, to pressure its ally to halt the process.
“Proceeding with steps to enact this legislation is a dangerous escalation in the conflict and a belittling of the efforts exerted to reduce tension and achieve calm,” the ministry said in a statement.
When the disengagement was announced, 17 Israeli settlements in Gaza were evacuated for the first time since their construction in the late 1970’s. The settlements represented almost 40% of the city, which remains currently under siege.
The settlements were occupied after the 1967 six-day war, widely known as “Naksa” or “setback”, in which Israel captured control of Gaza and the West Bank.
The disengagement plan then came after the second intifada, or uprising, where Israel killed at least 4,973 Palestinians.
This took place within the same time period as the the cold-blooded killing of 12-year-old Palestinian Muhammad Al Durrah by the Zionist state, which the world witnessed on live TV.
The disturbing image of Durrah shielding behind his father during his last moments remains engraved in the memories of people worldwide, including generations of Palestinians.
Israeli attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank intensified since last year amid its attempts to ethnically cleanse Palestine.
Since the start of the year, Israel has killed at least 84 Palestinians.