Israel’s Settlement Regulation Bill violates International Law

“The Knesset has never before enacted legislation regulating Arabs’ property ownership. As a rule, elected officials legislate for their constituents and those within the area of their jurisdiction, not others…If you want to pass legislation for the West Bank, you have to extend your sovereignty and allow the residents of Judea and Samaria the right to become citizens and vote in Knesset elections. And the meaning is clear”.

(Words from an ex-Knesset member)

The Knesset legislation is unjust and disgraceful. MK Benny Begin – a “Greater Israel” supporter – dubbed it “the robbery law… Don’t legislate evil laws and don’t authorize theft”, he declared.

Even the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fears he may end up in the International Criminal Court. ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda is soon to decide whether Palestine is a country and whether the court will discuss crimes committed in its territory. The UN General Assembly has already voted by a massive by a huge majority that Palestine is a country. And in the Rome Statute documents that established the court, it is clearly stated that settlement is illegal.

The “Regulation Bill” sanctions the expropriation of private Palestinian property in order to render legal hundreds, if not thousands, of houses constructed unlawfully by Israeli West Bank settlers. It raises significant legal problems under Israeli law and under international law, as the latter is interpreted and applied by Israeli courts.

Among many other problems, the Bill interferes with private property rights of Palestinian land owners in order to benefit Israeli settlers, and runs contrary to long-standing jurisprudence of the Israeli Supreme Court, according to which the construction of settlements in the West Bank can be permitted only on non-private land.

It also raises serious issues concerning the power of the Israeli Knesset to regulate land rights in an area not subject to Israeli law (unlike East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, Israel has never extended its domestic law to the West Bank).

The Attorney-General of the State of Israel has objected to the Bill and has taken the extraordinary step of declaring that he would not defend the State in litigation concerning the constitutionality of the Bill.

The Fourth Geneva Convention explicitly forbids an occupying power from moving its own civilians into occupied territory. According to the Israeli NGO Peace Now, the regulation law would retroactively legalize 55 outposts, including approximately 4,000 housing units in both settlements and illegal outposts through the expropriation of over 8,000 dunums (about 2,000 acres) of private Palestinian lands.

The new law would grant settlers the right to live in the land if, as stated by the bill, they “innocently” took it – ostensibly without knowing Palestinians owned the tracts or whether homes were built there at the state’s instruction.
Ranjan Solomon

Based on articles from the “Jews for Justice in Palestine” newsletter

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