US ‘deeply concerned’ by Israeli bill legalizing Jewish communities

Washington expressed reservations about a proposed Israeli bill that would save thousands of Jewish homes in Judea and Samaria.

The Obama administration on Monday stated its opposition to the Regulation Bill, saying it was “deeply concerned about it.”

The Regulation Bill is a proposed law which legalizes Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria that were established with state involvement and possibly built on private land or land not owned by the state.

The Obama administration is “very concerned about the advancement of this legislation that would allow for the legalization of Israeli outposts located in private Palestinian land,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters.

“Enacting this law would be profoundly damaging to the prospects for a two-state solution,” he asserted, adding that Washington is “troubled” by comments made by political figures in Israel that the law “would be the first step in annexing parts of the West Bank.”

Minister of Education Naftali Bennett praised the law, saying it spearheads full Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria.

“And again, it all goes back to what Secretary Kerry was discussing at the Saban Forum the other day, which is the more you create the realities on the ground that would prohibit a two-state solution, then the harder it’s going to be to get to that two-state solution,” Toner said

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He reiterated Washington’ stance that the bill was “changing the reality on the ground, and we’re deeply concerned about it. We’re conveying those concerns. The legislation’s not yet passed into law. We hope that it does not become law, but we certainly hope that changes or modifications can be made to it.”

The bill was approved in its preliminary reading at the Knesset’s plenum on Monday, and the coalition seeks to present the proposed legislation for a first reading on Wednesday.

The law stipulates that communities 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. It addresses hundreds of instances in which Israelis built homes with government consent or encouragement, later to discover that the land may have been privately owned or otherwise in dispute.

By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News