İrem UZUN -TDO- Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave his approval on Tuesday to advance a bill that would have Israel apply sovereignty to the Jordan Valley after the US State Department in a major policy shift, announced that it no longer views settlements as “inconsistent with international law”. Netanyahu called US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s decision “historic” during a visit to the Gush Etzion region of the West Bank, the day after the announcement, as the UN and others condemned it.

The bill was proposed earlier this month by MK Sharren Haskel of Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party, but at the time its chances of advancing - normally a lengthy process - appeared slim in light of the political deadlock and the fact that the country is currently led by an interim government. Haskel confirmed Tuesday morning fromher Twitter account that Netanyahu backs her proposal. She said the US announcement was “an opportunity to promote my law for sovereignty in the [Jordan] Valley.” She added: “I have filed a request to hold a vote on the law already next week, with the prime minister’s backing. I hope that parties who have spoken of sovereignty [in the Jordan Valley] will stick to their word”.

U.S. policy shift and Israeli government’s move angered Palestinians and was rebuked by many other countries, but delighted Israeli right-wing politicians and settler leaders who quickly called on the government to go ahead with annexing settlements.The international community overwhelmingly considers the settlements illegal. This is based in part on the 4th Geneva Convention, which bars an occupying power from transferring parts of its own civilian population to occupied territory. Israel rejects the position that the territories are occupied, maintaining that they were captured from Jordan in a defensive war.

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