WEST BANK: The Israeli parliament has given preliminary approval to a controversial bill that would legalise thousands of homes built in the occupied West Bank.
The bill’s main backer, Education Minister Naftali Bennett, called it the start of Israel’s annexation of most of the territory, which is disputed between Israelis and Palestinians.
Critics of Israel and Palestinians have called it a land grab.
The bill still needs to pass three readings in parliament to become law.
Around 4,000 settler homes, which were built without permission, will be legitimised if it goes ahead.
The settlements are considered illegal under international law.
An earlier version of the bill also reached this stage but failed when politicians clashed over the fate of Amona, a settler outpost in the West Bank.
A clause mentioning Amona by name has since been deleted, meaning that this area will not be legalised. It is due to be evacuated on 25 December.__BBC