Israel Policy Forum (IPF) reiterates its grave alarm over the Knesset passage of the Regulation Bill legalizing unauthorized settlements built on private Palestinian land. The damage that this bill does to Israel’s credibility cannot be overstated. In retroactively legalizing blatantly illegal activity, the Knesset is moving toward a single binational state, eroding the rule of law, showing complete disregard for the authority of its attorney general and Supreme Court, and incentivizing further lawlessness and extortive behavior. Its ultimate passage will isolate Israel from its friends and allies, subject Israelis to international sanction and prosecution, and make Israel’s rhetorical support for a two-state solution completely hollow.
Furthermore, the cynicism involved in passing this legislation, despite Prime Minister Netanyahu’s previously stated conviction that it will harm Israel geopolitically, and coming right before his meetings with President Trump and Prime Minister May, is staggering. By retroactively legalizing thousands of illegally built homes, Israeli leaders are sacrificing their country’s own interests and strategic position in the world for the sake of short-term political expediency and are providing the BDS movement with a greater political victory than it could ever hope to achieve on its own. This bill’s passage also sets a poor tone for establishing relationships with new leaders of two of Israel’s most important allies by ensuring that any bilateral dialogue on shoring up Israel’s security posture and world standing will be infected with unnecessary debate and wrangling over West Bank settlement activity.
The increasing expansion of settlements across the West Bank is a genuine and serious obstacle to a fair resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and this bill exponentially elevates the problem that such expansion poses. There is simply no scenario under which this bill makes Israel more secure, more democratic, or more just. Rather, it elevates Jewish nationalism above all else and demonstrates a fealty to revanchist territorialism above all other principles. We oppose this bill’s passage in the strongest possible terms, and we anticipate the High Court’s definitive rejection of it.