US has ‘serious concerns’ over legalizing Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria

A proposed law that may allow some Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria to escape being demolished has come under scrutiny in recent weeks as a decision looms, and the Obama administration has expressed its usual disappointment.

The Obama administration expressed “serious concerns” about a draft legislation approved by the Knesset’s Ministerial Committee on Legislation on Sunday that legalizes already-existing communities in Judea and Samaria which were established with state involvement and possibly built on private land or land not owned by the state.

The US is “concerned about the advancement of legislation that would allow for the legalization of illegal Israeli outposts located on private Palestinian land,” Elizabeth Trudeau, the State Department Press Office Director, stated Monday.

The proposed law stipulates that communities which were built on private land or non-state-owned land will not be demolished. Rather, the land will be expropriated and the owner of the land will be compensated.

She pointed out that Israel’s own attorney general has expressed “serious concerns about the constitutionality of the proposed legislation.” Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit opposes the law on the grounds that the proposed law allows for expropriation of private land in a manner that contravenes Israeli law and does not abide by state commitments under international law.

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“If this law were enacted, it could pave the way for the legalization of dozens of illegal outposts deep in the West Bank,” she asserted, a move that “would represent an unprecedented and troubling step that’s inconsistent with prior Israeli legal opinion and also break longstanding Israeli policy of not building on private Palestinian land.”

She reiterated the Obama administration’s policy that Israeli construction in Judea and Samaria is “corrosive to the cause of peace. “This legislation would be a dramatic advancement of the settlement enterprise, which is already gravely endangering the prospects for a two-state solution,” she said.

“This only makes clearer the choice Israel faces between building more settlements and preserving the possibility of peace. I would note we understand this legislation has several more steps to go before it’s passed. We hope it does not become law,” Trudeau concluded.

She refrained from commenting on the possibility that the Obama administration would act on their convictions before they leave office in January.

Jerusalem still fears the possibility that President Barack Obama will launch a last-ditch diplomatic initiative during the interim period between the elections in November and the swearing-in of the elected president in January, an act that would severely hinder Israel’s maneuvering abilities during any upcoming negotiations.

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While Obama and his administration have virulently opposed Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria saying it is an “obstacle to peace,” President-Elect Donald Trump has expressed diametrically opposed views and has even stated that he encourages Israeli construction in this region.

By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News