Sabastia, West Bank Palestinian village_311.
(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
MK Yariv Levin (Likud) plans to propose a bill that would compensate West Bank
Palestinian land owners for their property in an effort to stop the state
demolishing settler homes built on that land.
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The bill comes as an effort
to stop the pending demolition this year of an unauthorized neighborhood in the
Beit El settlement of Ulpana and homes on two outposts, Migron and Givat Assaf.
It is part of an effort by Likud lawmakers to find an alternative solution to
unauthorized Jewish structures on private Palestinian property in the West
“The current situation in Judea and Samaria is intolerable,” Levin
told The Jerusalem Post.
“The judiciary is being used as a tool to promote the
extreme Left’s political goals, such as harming settlers.”
“We cannot accept a policy in which we don’t build, illegal Arab construction is
not dealt with, and Jewish homes are destroyed. The prime minister does not have
a mandate from the public or Likud MKs for this behavior,” he told the Post
Levin plans to propose a bill that will allow the state to
compensate Palestinians with claims to land on which settler homes have been
built. The complainants will receive funds or alternative land, and will not be
able to demand that homes be destroyed.
“There is plenty of illegal Arab
construction, but in those cases the courts do not enforce the law, because they
say that it’s not a priority, or that it’s a political and diplomatic matter,”
the Likud MK explained. “Yet, when it comes to settlers, the courts are very
involved. This is a cynical use of the judicial system.”
Levin said his
bill will “break the cycle of house destruction. This removes the
government’s excuse by solving the problem of court destruction
“The government must stop hiding behind court rulings as if they
were inarguable, given by God at Mount Sinai,” the Likud MK added. “There should
be preference for Jewish settlement, or at least equality.”
that, in his opinion, “any method is acceptable, as long as the result is
additional construction [in the West Bank].”
“If my bill is passed, we
will be able to see who stands behind his ideology when it is tested, and who
really wants to govern without being dragged behind judges,” Levin
Attorney Michael Sfard, who works for both Yesh Din and Peace
Now in representing West Bank Palestinian land owners, slammed the proposed bill
as “racist” and said that it is unconstitutional, because it violates Israel’s
Sfard noted that Levin’s bill apparently is restricted to
Palestinian landowners and private Palestinian land in the West Bank, and that
Palestinians could not use the law to claim Jewish-owned private
According to Sfard, the proposed bill would constitute a violation
of property rights and the right to freedom of expression, two of the Israeli
legal system’s basic values.
Those values are enshrined in the Basic
Laws: Human Dignity and Liberty, which states that “there shall be no violation
of the property of a person.”
Notably, Section 8 of the same Basic Law
also contains a “limiting clause” restricting the Knesset from legislating laws
that contradict it, which makes Levin’s proposed bill potentially
If the Knesset passes the bill, and Levin’s proposals become
law, Sfard says that rights groups are therefore likely to petition the High
Court of Justice to annul it.
Sfard also noted that the Supreme Court,
sitting as the High Court of Justice, is currently debating such a petition
against the Nakba Law, which argues that the law violates constitutional rights
enshrined in the Basic Laws.
Attorney Limor Yehuda, director of the
Association for Civil Rights in Israel’s Human Rights in the Occupied
Territories department, said that apart from potentially violating the Basic Law
on Human Dignity and Liberty, Levin’s proposed bill is problematic because
according to international law, the West Bank is considered occupied territory
over which Israel has no authority.
The proposed bill amounts to
confiscation of lands in occupied territory, Yehuda argues, an act that is
illegal under international law.
However, Israel’s position is that the
Fourth Geneva Convention, the basis for the argument of some members of the
international community as to the illegality of Israel’s settlements, is not
applicable in Judea and Samaria.
Instead, the High Court of Justice has
ruled that, among other criteria, settlements cannot be built on private
Palestinian land but only on public land following an investigation to confirm
that no private rights to the land exist; or on land purchased by Israelis and
recorded in the Land Register.