June 9: Israel’s High Court of Justice ordered on Tuesday to nullify a law that would legalise the status of settlements partially built on privately owned Palestinian land under the claim that it is “unconstitutional.”

The ‘Law for the Regularisation of Settlement in Judea and Samaria’ was approved in February 2017. It was meant to allow the use of privately-owned Palestinian land to build Israeli settlements and to legalise outposts and structures erected on such soil.

The law was frozen shortly after its approval in an agreement between the state and several petitioners against it until the High Court ruled on the matter. In her ruling, Supreme Court President Esther Hayut said the law “seeks to retroactively legalise illegal acts perpetrated by a specific population in the region whilst harming the rights of another,” Haaretz reported.

Hayut said the law “does not meet the constitutional standards of Israeli law.” She added that “the desire to find a simple and comprehensive solution to the problem of construction in Israeli localities in the region, after years of various authorities contributing to the creation of this reality, is understandable, and preventing eviction and demolition of bona fide homes and the approval of competent authorities is a proper and important purpose,” but that this does not justify violating the right to property and the right to equality and dignity of the Palestinians, and “creates discrimination between Israeli and Palestinian residents regarding the regulation of illegal construction in the area.”

Hayut said that “in practice, and contrary to the government’s stated policy, construction of Israeli settlements in the area has been carried out over the years even on non-governmental property. This construction, it must be said, was partly carried out with the assistance and support of the state institutions and other authorities.”

Justice Noam Sohlberg, who was the only justice out of the nine who voted against repealing the law, expressed his concern that the decision would not be beneficial ‒ “not to the settlers, not even the landowners. Nobody will benefit from it. The land and buildings that the legislature sought to regulate, at least most of it, would therefore remain in their desolation.”

However, Sohlberg noted that the encouragement and support by government authorities for illegal construction in the region, for years, “is not for the glory of the State of Israel. In any case, as reprehensible as we may find this conduct to be, it will not change the fact that this involvement over the years has created a reality, in a very broad scope, that cannot be ignored.”

In its response to the ruling, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party lamented the court’s “interference in striking down an important law for the settlements and their future,” and promised to pass it again.


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