APN Condemns Law Legalizing Illegal Settler Construction

Americans for Peace Now today issues the following statement in the wake of the Israeli Knesset's passage of legislation legalizing illegal settler construction on private Palestinian land:

Defying vociferous warnings by leading Israeli jurists, including Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, the Israeli Knesset today passed a law that is patently unconstitutional, a law that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu himself said “will take Israel to the (international Court of Justice in the) Hague.”

The measure, known as the “Legalization Law” or the “Regularization Law” retroactively legalizes outright theft by settlers, giving post facto authorization to 55 West Bank settlement outposts that were illegally built by settlers on land recognized by the State of Israel as privately-owned by Palestinians. Furthermore, the law provides Israeli settlers in the West Bank a mechanism to accommodate more stealing of privately-owned Palestinian land in the future.

In effect, this legislation contradicts the commitments of successive Israeli governments, dating back more than a decade, to remove illegal settler construction. It gives lie to promises of successive Israeli governments since the 1980s not to establish new settlements, instantly establishing dozens of new, already-built "legal" settlements across the West Bank.  It gives settlers a green light and an incentive to expand settlements not only on the approximately 50% of the West Bank that Israel has previously found "legal" ways to take control of, and has given over for the use or benefit of the settlers, but also on land that Israel recognizes as privately owned by Palestinians.  And, fundamentally, it erases even the pretense that Israel applies the rule of law to settlers and confirms that Israel does not respect even the basic right of Palestinians to own property, when that property is coveted by the settlers.

Prime Minister Netanyahu, despite his initial opposition to the bill, was instrumental today in pushing to make it into a law, and supported it.

Americans for Peace Now (APN) joins its Israeli sister-organization Peace Now (Shalom Achshav) in condemning this law in the strongest possible terms, and in expressing alarm over the dangerous, undemocratic trajectory set by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government and his Knesset coalition.  This legislation is a disgrace, a stain on Israel’s law books.

The law is almost certain to face a High Court appeal, and is likely to be struck down by the Court. Legal experts view the law as unconstitutional because it violates land ownership provisions in Israeli Basic Laws, which have a constitutional status (Israel does not have an actual constitution).

For Shalom Achshav’s thorough analysis of the law see here: http://peacenow.org.il/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/regulation-law-report.pdf

For a summary of the analysis see here: http://peacenow.org.il/en/legalization_law