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Lawyer defending outpost law is ‘illegally building home’

Report reveals attorney Harel Arnon’s home is being built on West Bank land designated solely for military use

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US correspondent based in New York

Attorney Harel Arnon discusses the legal issues of Israeli presence in the West Bank at a conference in New York on August 12, 2014. (Screen capture/YouTube)
Attorney Harel Arnon discusses the legal issues of Israeli presence in the West Bank at a conference in New York on August 12, 2014. (Screen capture/YouTube)

The lawyer defending challenges to a controversial outpost legalization law is building his home illegally in the West Bank, Haaretz reported Monday.

Attorney Harel Arnon represents the state against High Court petitions seeking to overturn the so-called “Regulation Law,” which was passed by the Knesset in February.

The legislation legalizes wildcat outposts constructed on private Palestinian land in cases where owners can prove they built the land in good faith or received government support.

Arnon — who already may be facing unrelated fraud and money laundering charges — is building a house in an area of the Elazar settlement in the Gush Etzion bloc that had been designated strictly for military purposes, Haaretz reported. The construction also violates building plans authorized by the IDF’s Civil Administration.

Arnon replaced Attorney General Avichai Mandelbit, to represent the state, calling the law indefensible. The legislation is being petitioned by the Silwad Municipality, along with several other local Palestinian authorities.

Dror Etkes of the anti-settlement watchdog Kerem Navot said that Israel regularly designated as state lands areas that had previously been designated strictly for military use. He argued that since the government did not do the same with the segment of Elazar suggests that it is, in fact, private Palestinian land.

Jewish Home MK Bezalel Smotrich, who was one of the primary forces behind the Regulation Law came under similar scrutiny in March after photographs revealed that his own home in the Kedumim settlement is located on private Palestinian land.

Responding to the Haaretz report, Arnon said that there was no conflict of interest in him representing the High Court case because the outpost law only seeks to regulate land that had “not been allocated for settlement purposes.” He insisted that all of Elazar, was designated for exactly such use.

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