Israel's High Court of Justice.
(photo credit: ISRAELTOURISM / WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)
The Settlements Regulation Law which seizes private Palestinian property meets both Israeli and international legal standards, the state said on Monday evening.
It presented a lengthy brief on the legislation to the High Court of Justice. In a rare move the brief was penned by an outside consultant attorney Harel Arnon.
Attorney General Avihai Mandelblit
has argued that the law is unconstitutional. He has refused to defend the state against the petition to the HCJ by a consortium of 13 non-governmental groups that want to strike down the legislation.
“The Government of Israel rejects the petitioners' attempt to intimidate the government and its officials on the grounds that the [legislation] violates of international law,” the Justice Ministry said in its brief summary of Arnon's document.
The legislation retro-actively authorizes some 4,000 illegal settlers homes built on private Palestinian property while financially compensation the Palestinian land owners.
The bill runs counter to four decades of Israeli High Court rulings against the use of private Palestinian property for settler homes.
If the court upholds the legislation which the Knesset approved in February, it would mark the most significant change to the treatment of property in the West Bank in the last 40 years.
The state said that upholding the legislation offered the only fair solution to both settlers and Palestinians.
It clarified in its legal brief that halting the practice of evacuating hundred of Israeli families from their homes is of the highest order from a national, social, political and human interest perspective.
Uprooting settlements and neighborhoods has dramatic implications, the state said. The status of these settlements and neighborhoods has been suspended for years.
“The Israeli government has a primary obligation towards law-abiding citizens who have been forced to live in uncertainty after relying in good faith on governmental actions,” the state said.
Passage of the legislation provides the only option to legalize the homes, the state said.
The law provides the Palestinian landowners with their only option to receive generous renumeration for the use of the property, the state said.
“This is due to the racist legislation of the Palestinian Authority which imposes the death penalty in case of sale of land to Jews,” the state said.
Further, the law is said to apply only to those units, even if formally unauthorized, which the state in some way supported informally.
The NGOs Yesh Din and Peace Now charged that the state had advocated for the expropriation of Palestinian land as if it was the resolution to a national problem.
"The government attempts to present Israeli citizens, who are directly involved in land theft of Palestinians, as deserving a reward for their participation in the thievery. At the same time, it minimizes the extent of the continuous violations of rights of Palestinian landowners caused by the land theft. We hope that the court will reject the government’s arguments, strike down this unconstitutional and immoral law and state clearly that enough is enough.”
This legislation "violates international humanitarian law, 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 forbid the expropriation of their property for any use by an immediate security need," the NGOs said.