State Responds to Petition by ACRI, Peace Now and Yesh Din Challenging the Expropriation Law in the High Court

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Yesterday (21.8.2017), the Government of Israel submitted its official response to the petition to Israel’s High Court of Justice challenging the “Regularization Law,” submitted by Yesh Din, Peace Now and ACRI on March 3 on behalf of 27 Palestinian local councils, 4 Palestinian landowners and 13 Israeli civil society organizations. Through legislation by the Israeli parliament, the law aims at retroactively legalizing illegal settlement construction on private Palestinian lands in the West Bank.

 

The State response states, inter alia:

 

  1. Confiscation of private property is unlawful only if done without monetary compensation, which the law does offer.
  2. The Israeli Knesset may enact laws extra-territorially addressing problems faced by Israelis living in the West Bank.
  3. Israeli settlers in the West Bank are considered ‘local population.’
  4. Israeli settlements in the West Bank are of national interest and therefore confiscation of private land for this purpose is justified.
  5. The law benefits the local Palestinian landowners, who up until now were unable to sell their land to Israelis due to ‘racist’ (sic) Palestinian laws. The new law will assist them in fulfilling their land rights.
  6. The fact that Palestinians in the West Bank may not vote for the Israeli Parliament is irrelevant, since they also do not vote for the Military Commander who is enacting laws in the West Bank.

The State response completely ignores the extent of the continuous unlawful violations of rights of Palestinian landowners caused by illegal takeover of their land for settlement purposes. It expresses Israeli policies to retroactively legalize illegal Israeli construction in the West Bank in contravention to Israeli law as well as International Humanitarian Law, while rewarding the perpetrators who had illegally taken over land not belonging to them.

Background:

In the High Court petition of March 2017, the petitioners argued that the law is unconstitutional as it clearly violates Israel’s Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty, by forcing authorities to expropriate rights of land ownership and usage from Palestinians for an unlimited time period. The Palestinian landowners – who did not elect the parliament and government which is now expropriating their lands – are given no possibility to object the land expropriation proceedings that directly harm them.

Additionally, the law violates international humanitarian law (IHL), the laws of occupation and other international conventions signed by Israel, which oblige the State of Israel to protect the rights of residents of the occupied territory and prohibit the expropriation of their property for any use, except for immediate security needs. The petition also emphasizes the fact that the law is putting each military officer and civil servant involved in its implementation at risk of being accused of committing war crimes. The same is true for Members of Knesset who voted for it.

Finally, the petition stresses the fact that by passing the expropriation law,” the Knesset has exceeded its authority. Until now, Israeli laws applied in the West Bank only in regards to Israeli citizens, i.e. on a personal basis and not on the entire territory. Passing the law is a clear act of applying sovereignty, and thereby an act of illegal annexation.

Last week, on August 17, the Court issued a temporary injunction freezing the application of the Law, but along with it, preventing for the time being the enforcement of demolition orders on illegal settlement construction on private Palestinian land in the West Bank.
Peace Now estimates that there are more than 8000 dunams of private Palestinian lands in the West Bank in and around settlements on which illegal houses were established.

 

For more information about the petition (March 2017) click here

 

For the full petition in Hebrew click here.

 

For more information in Hebrew click here

 

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Categories: Anti-Democratic Initiatives, The Occupied Territories

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