President Reuven Rivlin has reportedly warned that the Regulation Law, which legalizes Israeli settlements built illegally on privately owned Palestinian land, will cause Israel to look like an “apartheid state.”
According to a report Sunday in the Haaretz daily, the president made the comment in a closed-door meeting last Wednesday, two days after the Knesset passed the controversial legislation.
“The State of Israel has accepted international law, which does not allow a country acting according to it to apply and enforce its laws in territories that are not under its sovereignty. If it does so, that’s legal cacophony. Israel will be seen as an apartheid state, which it is not,” Rivlin was quoted as saying.
A spokesman for the president’s office declined to comment on the report.
In all, the law would legalize some 3,900 homes — about 800 in unauthorized outposts and the remainder in recognized settlements.
In places where Israelis built settlements on privately held Palestinian property in good faith – i.e., without knowing it was privately owned – or received the government’s de facto consent by providing services such as electricity, the state would seize the property from its Palestinian owners in exchange for compensation valued at slightly more than the land’s market value, as determined by an Israeli government committee established for that purpose.
“There is no question here. The government of Israel simply cannot apply the laws of the Knesset to territories that are not under its sovereignty,” Rivlin reportedly said.
The president, a former lawmaker from the ruling Likud Party, also warned against a bill proposed by some right-wing MKs that would weaken the High Court’s power to review legislation.
Speaking ahead of a request last week by Arab rights group Adalah and the East Jerusalem-based Legal Aid and Human Rights Center to overturn the law, Tourism Minister Yariv Lavin from the ruling Likud party said judges should not have the authority to overturn laws made by democratically elected parliamentarians.
“The situation in which everyone waits until a handful of judges who are self-selected behind closed doors decide whether they like the law or not is not democratic and not correct,” he told Israel Radio, calling for “soul-searching” by the bench.
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit is reportedly considering the unprecedented move of testifying against the Knesset in the High Court of Justice over the controversial legislation passed Monday to legalize West Bank settlement outposts.
Mandelblit has repeatedly said that he won’t be able to defend the law before the court, warning that it marks the first time Israeli legislation explicitly affirms government support for wildcat settlements, and would openly curtail property rights of Palestinians in the West Bank in a way that contravenes the protections granted to occupied populations under the Fourth Geneva Convention.