|Israeli lawmakers attend a vote on a bill at the Israeli parliament. -Reuters|
JERUSALEM -- Israel passed a law on Monday retroactively legalizing about 4,000 settler homes built on privately owned Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank, a measure that has drawn international concern.
The legislation has been condemned by Palestinians as a blow to their hopes of statehood. But its passage may only be largely symbolic as it contravenes Israeli Supreme Court rulings on property rights.
Israel's attorney-general has said it is unconstitutional and that he will not defend it at the Supreme Court.
Though the legislation, passed by a vote of 60 to 52, was backed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing coalition, it has raised tensions in the government.
A White House official said that, given the new law is expected to face challenges in Israeli courts, the Trump administration "will withhold comment on the legislation until the relevant court ruling."
Political sources have said Netanyahu privately opposes the bill over concerns it could provide grounds for prosecution by the International Criminal Court in The Hague. The White House official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Washington would oppose any such international legal action.
But the far-right Jewish Home party, a member of the coalition looking to draw voters from the traditional base of Netanyahu's Likud, pushed for the legislation after the forced evacuation of 330 settlers last week from an outpost built on private Palestinian land.