Israel’s Supreme Court rescinds law legalizing settlements on private Palestinian land

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The Israeli Supreme Court on Tuesday overturned a law that retroactively legalized about 4,000 settler homes built on private Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank.A panel of nine judges voted to repeal the 2017 measure, under which settlers could stay on land if they built on it without prior knowledge of Palestinian property, or if houses were built under the leadership of the State. Eight voted for and one against.

Rights groups say the measure, which was frozen shortly after it was passed when the court heard petitions against it, had legalized more than 50 settler outposts built without government approval.

The law “unequally infringes the property rights of Palestinian residents while privileging the exclusive interests of Israeli settlers,” wrote Chief Justice Esther Hayut in the committee’s decision.

Major parties diverge in reaction

Likud’s right-wing party, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said it was “unfortunate” that the court had intervened on “an important law for settlement activities and its future” and that it would endeavor to reproduce.

But Likud’s new partner, Blue and White, said the law “in its format goes against the constitutional situation in Israel, and that its legal problems were known at the time of its approval.”

“We respect the decision of the High Court and [will] oversee its implementation, “said Blue and White.

Under Netanyahu, the government has pledged to extend sovereignty to Jewish settlements and the Jordan Valley in the West Bank, territory that Israel conquered in the 1967 Middle East War and which the Palestinians seek for a state.

The government is expected to start discussing the de facto annexation on July 1, but it is not certain that Israel’s main ally, the United States, will give the green light for this step.

The Palestinians rejected US President Donald Trump’s peace plan, under which most Israeli settlements would be incorporated into “contiguous Israeli territory”.

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