In striking down the regularization law, the High Court of Justice could have focused on the narrow issue at hand: the retroactive legalization of homes built on privately owned Palestinian land in settlements, or on unregistered land and without construction permits.
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But the president of the Supreme Court, Justice Esther Hayut, chose to take a broader view. Already in the preface to the ruling, she describes how Israel suspended land registration in the West Bank, declared some 1 million dunams (more than 247,000 acres) as “state land” and allocated them nearly in their entirety to the settlements.
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A few additional details: That declaration was based on a skewed interpretation of the law and carried out in violation of the basic tenets of due process. Moreover, even if this were in fact public land, it was meant for the Palestinians, not the settlers, who were not supposed to be there: The entire settlement enterprise is prohibited and constitutes a war crime – a point that Hayut ignored. This prohibition was legislated because the drafters of international law sought, among other considerations, to prevent what has been taking place for decades in the West Bank: the theft of hundreds of thousands of dunams and the subordination of the lives of the Palestinians to the needs of the settlers.
On the basis of the facts that Hayut chose to mention, it transpires that the theft of land, the establishment of 250 settlements and their expansion over the years, and the population of these communities with hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens who enjoy rights that are stripped from their neighbors, briefly appear to be reasonable.
Hardline Jewish settlers, supporters of the Amona outpost, northeast of Ramallah, are removed by Israeli security forces on February 1, 2017.Credit: AFP
Even the building of homes for settlers on private Palestinian land, under the auspices and with the encouragement of the state,