Israeli Politician Thanks Trump Voters After Passing Law Allowing Expansion of West Bank Settlements

Reaction to a controversial new Israeli law legalizing thousands of homes on Palestinian land came swiftly.

“We thank the American people for voting Trump into office, which was what gave us the opportunity for the bill to pass,” said Bezalel Smotrich, a member of Israel’s Knesset for the Jewish Home party, shortly after the vote late Monday.

Jewish Home is a right-wing religious Zionist political party that supports the expansion of settlements. While the White House cautioned Israel against passing Monday’s law, many right-wing Israeli politicians have felt emboldened by the Trump presidency.

The Israeli Parliament voted to retroactively legalize thousands of homes built unlawfully in the West Bank — on land that Palestinians envision one day will form part of a separate state.

The law is the latest in a series of pro-settler steps taken by Israel’s hard-line government since Trump’s election. Critics say the legislation enshrines into law the theft of Palestinian land, and it is expected to be challenged in Israel’s Supreme Court, where the attorney general has said he will not argue to defend it.

The U.N.’s coordinator for the Middle East peace process said the legislation “opens the floodgates to the potential annexation of the West Bank.”

“It will have a drastic legal consequence for Israel and for the nature of its democracy,” said Nickolay Mladenov. “It crosses a very, very thick red line.”

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SOURCE: NBC News, Petra Cahill, Lawahez Jabari and Paul Goldman