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Final vote on controversial West Bank outpost legalization bill postponed

Five of the nine houses marked for destruction in 2006 in the Amona settlement in the West Bank, on January 31, 2006
AFP Photo/Menahem Kahana
The vote comes ahead of the February 8 demolition of the wildcat Amona settlement outpost

Israel's government on Monday postponed a planned vote to pass into law a controversial bill that would retroactively legalize some 4,000 West Bank housing units built on privately-owned Palestinian lands.

A special parliamentary committee was expected to hold a final vote on the legislation with discussions scheduled to begin at 16:00 local time.

The vote was briefly postponed by Coalition Chairman MK David Bitan of Netanyahu's ruling Likud party but rescheduled after a legislative committee rejected reservations raised by opposition lawmakers.

It was then eventually delayed again, with the opposition "seeking seven full days of debates before the final votes will be held," the Times of Israel wrote.

Opposition party lawmakers pushed to postpone the vote, and it was unclear weather the delay was an attempt by coalition members to avoid a seemingly inevitable filibuster, with 227 objections filed against the bill since its introduction.

Coalition spokesperson David Bitan told The Times of Israel that the plenum votes were also pushed off until Tuesday, at the very least, adding that the second and third readings in the plenum may see further delays.

Likud MK Yehuda Glick said that discussions and revision on the bill will begin Tuesday and continue until Thursday, with the final votes taking place next Monday.

The vote comes ahead of the February 8 demolition of of the wildcat Amona settlement outpost and nine buildings in the nearby Ofra settlement.

Uri Shapira/ i24news

Netanyahu and Jewish Home party leader Naftali Bennett wrangled over an early version of the bill which specifically addressed the issue of the Amona outpost. The clause was ultimately removed from the draft legislation.

The Supreme Court ordered the removal of the outpost after a successful legal claim by the Palestinians landowners.

The bill was not expected to undermine the Court's decision on Amona, but could impact those outposts on which a final ruling has yet to be delivered.

Both Israel's Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit and the international community has denounced the legislation, saying it would clearly violate international law.

Fifty-seven members of the parliament, or Knesset, voted to approve the draft legislation in its first reading, while 51 were against it.

The United States, UN officials and the European Union have repeatedly warned that continued settlement building is eating away at the possibility of a two-state solution to the conflict.

(Staff with agencies)

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