The Israeli Knesset has moved a bill forward that would legally recognize 55 illegal settlements in the West Bank. The move was hailed as a major step away from the creation of a Palestinian state.
The bill, which would legalize 3,881 housing units, flies in the face of well-established international law and would even go against current Israeli policy towards settler outposts.
But, that hasn't stopped the legislation from moving smoothly through its first reading. The bill passed the first round of voting by 60 to 49.
Supporters of the bill have said this is an important step in spreading complete Israeli dominance over historic Palestine.
"With this law, the state of Israel has moved from the path leading to the creation of a Palestinian state to the path leading to [Israeli] sovereignty," Israel Education Minister Naftali Bennett, a far-right supporter of the bill, said, according to The Independent.
The bill has the backing of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition in the Knesset, but still must pass three more readings before becoming law.
It is expected to move speedily through the parliamentary process, barring government intervention. Still, some are skeptical that the bill will be approved by Israel's High Court.
Even Israel's Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has cautioned against the bill, arguing it breaks local and international law. He said he will not be able to defend it before the High Court, according to The Times of Israel.
Despite the illegality, right-wing supporters of the legislation, such as Naftali, have said this is the beginning of Israel's annexation of much of the rest of Palestine.
"Today, the Israeli Knesset shifted from a path to establish a Palestinian state, to a path of extending sovereignty to Judea and Samaria," Naftali said following the vote. Judea and Samaria are the biblical names for the areas of the West Bank.
The bill has drawn international criticism, even from Israel's main backer, the United States.
Nickolay Mladenov, the United Nations envoy for the Middle East peace process called the legislation a "very worrying initiative" and cautioned Israeli lawmakers to consider the bill's "far-reaching legal consequences."