The Yehudah and Shomron Regulation Law balances between the needs of settlers and the property rights of Palestinians, the government said in a response filed late Monday to the High Court of Justice. Responding to challenges to the law that seeks to retroactively legalize Israeli settlements built on private Palestinian land in Yehudah and Shomron in exchange for the allocation of alternate lands or financial compensation, the State said the law is fair and equitable to all parties.
“The Yehudah and Shomron Regulation Law provides a proportional, fair and humane response to the very real distress of Israeli citizens who built their homes with government support and at the same time gives Palestinian landowners the opportunity to receive appropriate compensation for their rights,” the State said.
The State is represented by a private attorney, Harel Arnon, the author of a book on land laws and international law in Yehudah and Shomron. The State was forced to hire a private attorney after Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit refused to defend the Regulation Law, which he has said is indefensible in court and could put Israel in breach of international law, possibly leading to legal proceedings at the International Criminal Court.
The Regulation Law was passed in February 2017 following the eviction of some 40 families from Amona, an unauthorized outpost adjacent to the settlement of Ofra, north of Yerushalayim. The law would retroactively legalize close to 4,000 homes built on private Palestinian land by expropriating land rights to the state. The Palestinian landowners would be compensated with alternate lands or compensation at a rate of 125 percent of the land’s value.
The state added that it believed the Regulation Law met the criteria of both Israeli law and international law and that it rejected “attempts to intimidate the government and its officials on the grounds that the Law constitutes a violation of international law.” Furthermore, it said, “the government of Israel rejects attempts to impose on the State of Israel different and more stringent standards than are standard practice elsewhere in the world.”
The response added that “the Law improves the situation of the (Palestinian) landowners vis-a-vis their present situation in which they find themselves without land, without compensation and without the ability to sell, this as a result of the racist legislation passed by the Palestinian Authority which calls for the death sentence in the event of selling land to Jews.”
Last week, the High Court of Justice issued a temporary injunction suspending implementation of the Regulation Law until appeals against it have been heard.