ACRI, Peace Now and Yesh Din Petition the High Court against the Expropriation Law

ACRI, Peace Now and Yesh Din submitted a petition to the High Court of Justice today, on behalf of 27 Palestinian local councils and 13 Israeli civil society organizations, in an effort to strike down the new “Regularization Law,” aimed at retroactively legalizing illegal settlement construction on private Palestinian lands.

The petitioners, represented by Attorneys Dan Yakir, Michael Sfard and Shlomy Zachary, alongside attorneys Michal Ziv and Roni Pelli, requested the High Court to issue an interim injunction, which would prevent the implementation of land expropriation processes until a final decision by the Court is issued. Peace Now estimates that there are more than 8000 dunams of private Palestinian lands in the West Bank in and around settlements, on which illegal houses were established.

The petition elucidates the ways in which the expropriation law violates basic human rights and contradicts Israeli law and International Humanitarian Law, as well as provisions of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. The petitioners view the law as a reward to lawbreakers, which will have detrimental impact on the rights of Palestinian landowners as well as on the democratic character of the State of Israel.

The main arguments presented in the petition include the following:

By passing the expropriation law the Knesset has exceeded its authority. The lands the law applies to are occupied territories, located outside of the sovereignty and the jurisdiction of the State of Israel, and are expropriated from persons who are not citizens or residents of Israel, and therefore not represented in the legislative process which they are victims of.

The law violates basic rights in regards to private property, livelihood, dignity and equality. Israeli lawmakers and officials are obligated to act in accordance with this basic law and with the norms it sets wherever their actions take place.

The law is unconstitutional as it fails to comply with the conditions of the limiting paragraph of the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty: The damage resulting from the implementation of the law does not match the values of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state; the purpose of the law is not adequate; and the rights’ violations to be committed through it are utterly disproportionate.

The law clearly discriminates on the basis of nationality, as it applies to illegal construction only by Israeli settlers on lands that are privately owned only by Palestinians. The implementation of the law will result in an asymmetrical, unlawful and discriminatory transfer of lands belonging to Palestinians for the benefit and private use of settlers.

The expropriation of lands in an area under military occupation and owned by people who are considered protected persons under IHL clearly violates customary law based on the Hague regulations and the Geneva Convention. These international laws obligate the Israeli military to protect Palestinians and their properties, and limits takeover of land to immediate and temporary military needs.

The law constitutes a violation of international criminal law, including Article 8(2)(a)(iv) of the Rome Statute which forbids appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly. It will lead Israel to commit war crimes, putting each officer or private citizen involved in the implementation of the law at risk of being tried at the International Criminal Court.

For the full petition in Hebrew click here.