A controversial bill has been defeated in the Israeli parliament that would have retrospectively legalised all homes built on Palestinian land.
The law was drafted by ultra-nationalist politicians to counter a Supreme Court ruling ordering that five houses built in the settlement of Beit El near Ramallah be demolished on July 1st.
But Israel’s parliament rejected the bill by 69 votes to 22.
Several hundred protesters marched from the occupied West Bank to the Knesset in Jerusalem to back the law.
“I’ve come here to protest what I consider to be an immoral act on the part of this government. I feel that destroying homes of people that they themselves have approved. These people have bought the homes, the paid the money, they have gotten mortgages,” said protester Deborah Weiner.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has promised to rehouse those affected and pledged to build 300 new housing units in the West Bank in an attempt to appease settlers.
But that’s likely to anger Palestinians who have refused to return to peace talks until the building of new settlements is halted.
The UN World Court and much of the international community consider the Israeli settlements illegal. But Israel disputes this, citing historical and Biblical links to the territory.