The Knesset passes a bill defining a group of West Bank settlements as part of Israel's Negev region in a preliminary reading 52-37.

Fifty-two lawmakers voted in favor of the amendment submitted by Otzma Yehudit MK Limor Son Har-Melech, while 37 voted against it.

If passed through all three readings further in the Knesset, Kiryat Arba and the Har Hebron Regional Council settlements will be eligible for funding from the Negev Development Authority.

The discussion turned into a thunderous row between opposition and coalition MKs. Opposition members interrupted Son Har-Melech's speech with shouts. The bill's author argued that the inclusion of the new localities would only increase the overall budget and would, therefore, benefit the localities in the Negev as well.

Yitzhak Wasserlauf, Minister for the Development of the Periphery, the Negev, and the Galilee, added that according to the existing criteria, Kiryat Arba, Hebron, and the Southern Hebron Hills are part of the Negev. "We are not changing anything; we are correcting years of injustice," he said.

In response, opposition head Yair Lapid said that "the settlements have been stealing money from periphery communities for 50 years, and the Likud party has been silent."

"The Negev is the Negev, Judea and Samaria is Judea and Samaria. Don't invent a geography that doesn't exist," Lapid said.