The Israeli Knesset voted against the proposed ‘Regulation Bill’ on Wednesday. The bill would have retroactively legalized settlements in the West Bank. The bill was intended to avoid the implementation of a ruling made by Israel’s High Court that ruled in favor in evicting five homes illegally built in the Ulpana outpost.The Israeli Knesset voted down a bill that was introduced in order to legalize homes built in the illegal Ulpana settlement, in Beit El, near the central West Bank city of Ramallah. Instead Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Housing and Construction Minister, Ariel Atias, decided to build 551 houses in illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

During a preliminary reading at the Knesset of Wednesday, 69 members of Knesset voted against the bill, while 22 voted for it.

Israeli online daily, Haaretz, reported that Atias said that the 551 news units that will be built were in addition to 300 units planned to be built in Bet El, as announced earlier on Wednesday.

117 of the new units will be constructed in the illegal settlement of Ariel, 92 in Ma’ale Adumin, 144 in Admam settlement, and 84 in Kiryat Arba’, Haaretz added.
Commenting on the decision to relocate the Ulpana settlement neighborhood, Netanyahu stated that the decision “was not easy”, despite the fact that by, Israel’s admission, the settlement was built on privately-owned Palestinian lands. But he also stated that expanding Beit El settlement is a move that would strengthen the settlement movement.

Netanyahu added that relocating the houses in Ulpana comes as an implementation of a ruling made by the Israeli High Court due to the fact that they were built on Palestinian lands.

Haaretz noted that hundreds of settlers protested, close to the Knesset building, in support of the bill, and blocked off several roads in the area. Clashes also took place between the Police and the extremist settlers, and the police apprehended eight settlers, including extremist settler, Itamar Ben-Gvir.

The decision to build 551 settlement units, in addition to the 300 units planned in Bet El, is another blow to the international efforts meant for the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, as the construction and expansion of settlements was one of the main issues that pushed the Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank to quit direct peace talks with Tel Aviv.

Israel’s settlement in all of the occupied territories, including in and around occupied East Jerusalem, are illegal not only under International Law, but also under the Fourth Geneva Convention to which Israel is a signatory (The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies. – Article 49, paragraph 6)

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