Israeli and Palestinian NGOs appeal to Supreme Court against pro-settler law

The goal is to undo the norm legalizing thousands of settlements in the Occupied Territories. Even the Israeli Attorney General judges it "unconstitutional" and is ready to testify against it. Israeli deputy minister reaffirms the "historical and legal rights to this land." Abu Mazen: An aggression against our people.


Jerusalem (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Israeli and Palestinian activists groups yesterday filed an appeal to the Supreme Court, in order to cancel the new (controversial) norm approved by the Israeli parliament that "legalizes" thousands of settlements in the Occupied Territories. In addition, Adalah and the Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Centre (Jlac) have called an injunction that blocks the effects of the law pending a final verdict.

In recent days, Israel's parliament sanctioned the entry into force of the rule with 60 deputies out of a total of 120 in favor; 52 against. The new law provides that the Palestinian owners of the land will no longer have any right to the land; faced with expropriation, they will receive a sum of money or other land in different places.

The Attorney General of Israel, Avichai Mandelblit, has also slammed the law as "unconstitutional". And he added that he will not defend it in court and is ready to testify against it if it will be called upon to do so.

The so-called "regularization bill" voted by the Knesset states that the buildings constructed according to functional the principle of "good faith" and without knowing that the land belonged to private Palestinian citizens in the West Bank can be recognized by the government. In this way the Israeli executive claims the right to expropriate Palestinian land, compared with paltry compensation or displacing owners elsewhere.

To date there are over 600 thousand Jewish settlers living in about 140 settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. International law considers these settlements illegal which Israel has always contested. At the same time there are 97 outposts also, which have never received official government approval.

According to reports from the NGO Peace Now the norm passed by Parliament retroactively authorizes 3921 new housing units in 72 settlements and 55 outposts, built on about 818 hectares of Palestinian land.

Yesterday, the Palestinian activist group Adalah and its Israeli counterpart Jlac submitted an appeal to the Supreme Court on behalf of 17 Palestinian towns and villages. It is a norm, underlines attorney Suhad Bishara, Adalah, which favors "the political interests of Israel as the Occupying Power" and benefit "of Israeli settlers."

The Supreme Court granted the government 30 days to respond. However, in a video message vice-foreign minister Tzipi Hotovely said that "Israel has historic and legal rights to this land" and the law "ensures a balance" between the right to "land" of the Israelis and "compensation" for the Palestinians.

In the past, the Supreme Court overturned laws that it considered against constitutional requirements. These included the order for the evacuation and dismantling – carried out last week – of the controversial Amona settlement because it was built right on private Palestinian land.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says the law is an "aggression against our people" which "we will challenge in international organizations." "What we want is peace - he added - but what Israel is doing is working towards a single state founded on apartheid."

In a statement the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem condemned the new law, branding it as "unfair and one-sided." Even the European Union has already expressed criticism and concern from the norm. The United States, before taking a position, is awaiting the pronouncement of the judiciary.