Israel repeals law that banned four West Bank settlements

JERUSALEM (Reuters): Israeli parliament on Tuesday repealed legislation that ordered the evacuation of four settlements in the occupied West Bank, one of the first major moves by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hard-right coalition.

The original law, passed in 2005, mandated the evacuation of four Jewish settlements in the northern West Bank along with Israel’s disengagement from the Gaza Strip. The repeal would allow Jewish residents to return to these settlements on condition of approval by the Israeli military.

Since the 1967 war, Israel has established around 140 settlements on land Palestinians see as the core of a future state. Besides the authorized settlements, groups of settlers have built scores of outposts without government permission.

Most world powers deem settlements built in the territory Israel seized in the 1967 war as illegal under international law and their expansion as an obstacle to peace, since they eat away at land the Palestinians claim for a future state.

Yuli Edelstein, head of the Israeli parliament’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, hailed the move as “the first and significant step toward real repair and the establishment of Israel in the territories of the homeland that belongs to it.”