Rights groups petitioned Israel’s High Court against the ‘settlement law’

Rights groups petitioned the Israeli Supreme Court against the new law that effectively legalized Israeli settlements and outposts that were built on private Palestinian land in the West Bank. The organizations Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel and the Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center filed a joint appeal on behalf of 17 Palestinian villages and towns in the West Bank against the law, that was passed in Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, earlier this week, a law Israel’s attorney-general Avichai Mandelblit stressed was unconstitutional and that he will not defend it at the Supreme Court, where other groups have also said they plan to challenge it. 

“Basically, we are basing our petition on two main arguments. One is that the law violates the IHL (International Humanitarian law) which is the legal framework that should be binding in the West Bank. Second, we are claiming that the Israeli parliament cannot enact any law that violates its constitutional values. And we think that this law is unconstitutional,” Attorney Suhad Bishara, Adallah Organization.

The rights organizations, who uphold the same position as the International community pertaining to the West Bank, in which Judea and Samaria which were part of biblical Israel are not part of today’s Jewish state, stressed that the fact that Israel does not have sovereignty there, it cannot apply its laws in those territories. 

 “The state of Israel, when we are talking about Israel, has no sovereignty over there. And the Israeli law is not applying there, according to the Israeli government and Knesset. So how come the Knesset could legislate a law that applies there? If the Knesset can legislate law that applies in the West Bank, why can’t it legislate laws that apply in London or Paris?” Asked Attorney Talia Sasson, Israel National Fund and anti-settlements activist.

The legalization law, which retroactively sancitons about 4,000 settler homes built on privately-owned Palestinian land, was called by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as an aggression against the Palestinian people, and a blow to their hopes of statehood. Western leaders joined the Palestinian stance against the Israeli law with EU Foreign Policy Chief warning that if it is implemented, it will cross a new and dangerous threshold. Nevertheless, Israeli deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotoveli rejected the international condemnations, stressing that the law was fair and just under the legal “principal of compensation”, which is known in all western legal systems and maintains a just-balance between the Jewish settlers and Palestinian landowners. 

“The settlement law that Israeli parliament passed this week reflects a just legal principle. The underlying premise behind the critics of Israel is that this is occupied Palestinian land. This premise is incorrect. Israel has both historic and legal rights to this land and the law reaches the right balance the right of the Jewish families to their homes and the right of the owners of this plots of land to get compensation. The legal principle of compensation is known in all western legal systems. And this principle that Israel adopted this week creates the right justice between the Palestinians and the Jewish families,” said Hotoveli.