By Abdelraouf Arnaout
JERUSALEM (AA) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday defended a Knesset bill allowing settlers to resettle in four evacuated settlements in the northern West Bank.
On Tuesday, the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) passed a bill to allow Israelis to resettle in four outposts that were evacuated under former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s disengagement plan from the Gaza Strip.
The plan saw Israel remove more than 9,000 settlers in 21 illegal settlements in the Gaza Strip and the northern West Bank.
"The Knesset decision to repeal parts of the Disengagement Law brings to an end to a discriminatory and humiliating law that barred Jews from living in areas in northern Samaria [West Bank],” Netanyahu said in a statement issued by his office.
The Israeli premier said that his government does not plan to build new settlements in the northern West Bank.
"The [Israeli] government has no intention of establishing new communities in these areas [the northern West Bank]," he added.
The Israeli bill has triggered a storm of condemnations from several countries, including the US, which summoned Israeli Ambassador in Washington Mike Herzog for clarification.
Estimates indicate about 650,000 settlers are living in 164 settlements and 116 outposts in the occupied West Bank.
Under international law, all Jewish settlements in the occupied territories are considered illegal.
* Writing by Ahmed Asmar