Middle East

Israel advances bill to legalize West Bank outposts

The Israeli parliament has given initial approval to a revised bill that would legalize scores of Israeli settlement outposts built without permission on private Palestinian land in the West Bank, but would allow for the court-ordered demolition of one such outpost this month.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has called the bill "really concerning."

Lawmakers advanced the bill Monday in a 60-49 vote. The bill must receive more approvals before becoming law.

The bill is a revised version of legislation initially devised to avoid demolishing the Amona outpost, which was built without permission on Palestinian land. The government now hopes to move Amona settlers to nearby land considered absentee property.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his coalition was advancing the initiative because "settlements are dear to us."