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Israeli parliament retroactively legalizes thousands of West Bank settlement homes

JERUSALEM -- Israel’s parliament has passed a contentious law meant to retroactively legalize thousands of West Bank settlement homes. 

Inside a West Bank settlement which has powerful U.S. benefactors

The law passed 60-52 in a late-night vote Monday. The law is expected to be challenged in Israel’s Supreme Court and is likely to face legal hurdles. 

The law retroactively legalizes several thousand homes built illegally on private Palestinian land. The original landowners would be compensated either with money or alternative land, even if they do not agree to give up their property.

The law is part of a series of pro-settlement steps taken in recent weeks by Israel’s hard-line government, which has been emboldened by the election of U.S. President Donald Trump. 

Hagi Ben-Artsy is encouraged by the thousands of new building permits issued to Israeli settlers since President Trump took office, including 100 in his settlement Beit El, CBS News’ Seth Doane reported.

“We shall see real houses because of President Trump,” Ben-Artsy said among the small homes standing now.

Mr. Trump has been perceived as sympathetic to settlements, an issue at the heart of the Israel-Palestinian conflict that was a frequent source of friction between his predecessor, Barack Obama, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Israeli nationalists have believed they now have an ally in the White House.

But last week, the White House said while the administration doesn’t “believe the existence of settlements is an impediment to peace, the construction of new settlements or the expansion of existing settlements beyond their current borders may not be helpful in achieving that goal.”

The international community overwhelmingly opposes settlements and sees them as an obstacle to peace.  

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