American law professor and prominent pro-Israel advocate Alan Dershowitz said that he is opposed to the newly passed outpost bill, but would defend Israel in an international court if necessary over the controversial legislation.
The Knesset late Monday passed the so-called Regulation Law, which enables the appropriation of private Palestinian land for Israeli settlement outposts in the West Bank, in a move the Palestinians condemned as a means to “legalize theft.”
UN envoy for the Middle East peace process Nickolay Mladenov called the bill a “very dangerous precedent” and raised the possibility the law could open Israel up to potential prosecution at the International Criminal Court, a risk the Israel’s attorney general has warned of, as has Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu despite his support of the bill.
“I’m opposed to the statute, I think it is a very bad idea,” Dershowitz said in an interview broadcast Saturday on Israel Radio.
But Dershowitz said the court in the Hague was not the proper venue for such a case.
“The International Criminal Court was set up to deal with genocide, with mass murderers, not to deal with property disputes,” Dershowitz said. “So I think it would be utterly improper for the International Criminal Court to set up an investigation based on a dispute over land.”
Dershowitz acknowledged Israel could still find itself there, due to “bias against Israel in international tribunals.”
“I would feel very comfortable defending Israel in front of the International Criminal Court if a case were brought on the kind of land dispute that is represented by that statute,” said Dershowitz.
The law professor praised Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit for opposing the law; Mandelblit would reportedly even testify against it at the High Court.
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.
“I have enormous respect for the attorney general of Israel and I think its his job to stand up against laws that he thinks are illegal under Israeli law and I commend him for taking that position,” Dershowitz said.
If Mandelblit were to take such a drastic step, it would be unprecedented.
The law, which passed with a majority of 60 to 52, allows Israel to compensate Palestinians whose land has been taken over by settlers, instead of removing the outposts.
Several anti-settlement groups have petitioned the High Court against the new law. The court is widely expected to strike down the law.