>> Israel's parliament will vote this week on whether to legalize thousands of settlements on Palestinian land. Critics say it's another big blow to the peace process, but the response of the new US administration is hard to predict. Jeffrey Heller is Reuter's editor in charge in Jerusalem.>> Passage of the bill by Israel's parliament will retroactively legalize about 4,000 Israeli settler homes build on privately owned Palestinian land.
Palestinians call it another Israeli territorial grab in the occupied West Bank, and even Israel's attorney general says the legislation is unconstitutional and in violation of international law, but for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the measure could be crucial to his political survival. It was Netanyahu's far right coalition partner, the Jewish Home Party, that promoted the bill, which the Prime Minister initially opposed.
But with Jewish Home and Netanyahu's Likud Party vying for the same voters, anything less than full support by the Prime Minister for the legislation, could have chipped away at his traditional power base of conservative, pro-settlement backers. And now that Netanyahu is under criminal investigation over allegations, which he denies, of abuse of office, he needs all the political and public support he can get.
An international outcry, that's very likely, but with Republican President Donald Trump in office, the US reaction is likely to be muted. And ultimately, few in Israel expect the legislation to survive legal challenges in Israel's supreme court. It has ruled in the past in favor of Palestinian deed holders, in cases where settlers have seized their land.