JERUSALEM, Israel – Reaction to the Knesset's passage of the 'regulation law' retroactively legalizing Jewish communities in Israel's biblical heartland is, not surprisingly, along ideological lines.
The law shields Jewish towns, built in good faith with the government's backing, which were later claimed to be on "private Palestinian land," according to laws issued by Jordan during its 19-year occupation of Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem between 1948 and 1967.
Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas and chief negotiator Saeb Erekat condemned the legislation, saying it legalized "theft of Palestinian land."
"All Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine are illegal and a war crime regardless of any law passed by the Israeli parliament or any decision taken by any Israeli judge," The Times of Israel quoted Erekat.
Abbas claimed the law violated U.N. Resolution 2334, which passed in the waning weeks of the Obama presidency, disavowing Israel's historical ties to its biblical homeland.
An 'Historic Day'
Many Israeli ministers applauded the law's passage, saying it is "historic."
Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev called it a first step toward Israeli sovereignty over its own land.
Tourism Minister Yariv Levin said these people have been "victims of a great injustice for too long."
MK Shuli Mualem said families "will no longer be a target for radical leftist organizations" seeking "to destroy and damage" Israeli settlement.
CBN News asked author and political analyst Moshe Dann about the significance of the historic legislation.
"This [law] is important because it's the first time the Knesset has asserted its rightful role," Dann explained. "[It's] a good attempt to try to find a solution to the problem of land ownership and land use in Judea and Samaria, which is very important because up till now it's just been decisions by the military and civil administrations."
Since Israel recaptured the land in the 1967 Six Day War, the territory has been under the control of the IDF's Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) and the Minhal Ezrachi (Civil Administration). In a recent post entitled, "Is Amona built on 'private Palestinian land," he explains how that works.
Media bases its reporting on what these two groups – the military and civil administrations – say.
"What people don't understand is how it's reported in the media. They say Israel is stealing, committing theft of private Palestinian land. And the reason people say this is because of the Minhal Ezrachi and COGAT, which have a separate government. When people in the media say Israel is stealing Palestinian land, what they're doing essentially is basing this on what these two groups say."
Dann went on to explain that land may have been registered in someone's name 60 years ago and that person is no longer around.
"Sometimes we can't even find out if that person ever existed. So people claim to be descendants of that person thereby to own land and that certifies them without ever going to court," he said.
Most expect one of several pro-Palestinian NGOs (a non-governmental organization usually funded by private donations) to petition the High Court. For example, Yesh Din (Volunteers for Human Rights) filed the petition against the Samarian Jewish community of Amona. Since the court's pattern has been to rule in their favor, many expect them to annul this current legislation.
But some believe such a ruling may prompt the government to annex Judea and Samaria, a move that many Israelis would welcome.
Dann says if that happens, it will be more difficult for the court to oppose a government decision.