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Israel's top court annuls West Bank settlement legalization law

Israel’s Supreme Court has struck down a controversial 2017 law that would have allowed the regime to expropriate private Palestinian land, where thousands of settler units have been built, drawing praise from advocacy groups.

 

In a vote of eight to one, the nine-judge panel of the court ruled that the so-called Law for the Regularization of Settlement in Judea and Samaria “was unconstitutional and ordered it nullified.”

 

The law did not “provide sufficient weight” to the status of “Palestinians as protected residents in an area under belligerent occupation,” read a court statement.

 

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 t also “violates the property rights and equality of Palestinians, and gives clear priority to the interests of Israeli settlers over Palestinian residents [of the West Bank],” the statement added.

 

In February 2017, the Israeli Parliament (Knesset) approved the contentious measure, which allowed settlers to remain on land if they built there without prior knowledge of Palestinian ownership, or if homes were constructed at the Tel Aviv regime’s direction.

 

It was meant to retroactively legalize about 4,000 settler units on privately owned Palestinian land.

 

However, soon after passage, the law was frozen while the court heard petitions filed by several rights groups against it.

 

B’Tselem, an Israeli rights NGO, praised the court’s decision, but expressed regret that it does little to stop the regime’s larger settlement project.

 

“All lands in the West Bank are Palestinian, and even after today’s HCJ (High Court of Justice) ruling Israel will continue to take over more and more Palestinian land. This reality of ongoing land theft by ... Israel does not fundamentally change today, nor does it diminish the Israeli HCJ’s role in legitimizing it over the years,” it said.

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