Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, the Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center (JLAC), and Al Mezan Center for Human Rights (Gaza) issued a joint statement today, 23 November 2017, regarding the Israeli attorney general’s response to the petition against the Settlement Regularization Law that he submitted yesterday to the Israeli Supreme Court.
According to the Settlements Regularization Law, West Bank settlements built on privately-owned Palestinian land would be "legalized" by de facto expropriating the land, planning the settlements, and retroactively authorizing the housing already constructed on the land. The law would "regularize" these settlements in the West Bank with territories unilaterally annexed by Israel such as the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem, in direct violation of international law.
Although Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit maintains that the law should be repealed, his position is still problematic from the standpoint of international law. In parallel to his opposition to the law, the AG noted that “validating” the settlements is a worthy act and that the State of Israel now has a number of other tools at its disposal that allow it to “validate” Israeli construction on private Palestinian land that was transferred to a settlement “in good faith.”
In the AG's response, he authorizes use of these tools including, amongst other measures, expropriation of Palestinian land for “public needs,” such “regulating” the construction of an access road to an illegal Israeli settlement outpost.
Adalah, JLAC, and Al Mezan emphasize that the AG’s position clashes directly with international law explicitly forbidding the construction of settlements and the transfer of the occupying power’s civilian population into occupied territory - this is considered a war crime. International law specifically bans harm to Palestinian property in the West Bank for the purposes of development and expansion of settlements.
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