A move by the Israeli Knesset yesterday to retroactively legalise the appropriation of private Palestinian property for settlements built in the West Bank has been condemned by Neoklis Sylikiotis, chair of the European Parliament’s Delegation for relations with Palestine:

He said, “The EU should unequivocally condemn Israel’s law legalising the theft of private Palestinian land for settlements. Members of the European Parliament had made clear to the Knesset last December their opposition to the law. We said – and I reiterate – that this law amounts to an illegal land grab.”

Israeli lawmakers describe the law as a first step towards permanent annexation of the West Bank – where the number of settlers is reaching the 1 million mark – making prospects for a two-state solution almost impossible.  Opponents of the bill, amongst them Israel’s attorney-general, fear for Israel’s growing international isolation.

Some 6,000 new settlement homes have been announced in the Occupied Palestinian Territory in the past two weeks. The so-called regularisation law denies Palestinian owners the right to use or hold the lands affected. MEPs have denounced it as an infringement of Palestinian property rights and the right of Palestinians to self-determination in their letter to the Knesset.

Sylikiotis added, “The international community has repeatedly condemned settlements as illegal under international law. This position was re-affirmed by UN Security Council resolution 2334 last December which states clearly that the settlements have no legal validity, constitute a flagrant violation under international law and are a major obstacle for a just peace.”

An open letter will be sent to the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, urging tough action in response to the passing of the bill:

“In addition to sanctions, the Council must strengthen its differentiation policy between the territory of the state of Israel and the Occupied Territories before the situation becomes irreversible,” Sylikiotis concluded.

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