- Justifying Land Grab, Israel Says It is ‘Allowed to Ignore International Law’ Anywhere It Wants
by Jonathan Ofir, https://mondoweiss.net/
The Israeli government has recently claimed that it can “legislate anywhere in the world”, that it is “entitled to violate the sovereignty of foreign countries”, and that “is allowed to ignore the directives of international law in any field it desires”. This was written in an official response letter to the Supreme Court last month.
On the face of it, these are audacious claims. Is it really that bad? I would say that it’s even worse. The background to these statements is a new law from last year, which legalizes outright theft of Palestinian land.
Several Palestinian human rights organizations have challenged the law in court. The plaintiffs are Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center (JLAC), and Al Mezan Center for Human Rights (Gaza) on behalf of 17 local Palestinian authorities in the West Bank. The Israeli government was represented by a private lawyer, Harel Arnon, because Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit refused to defend the law in court, since he deemed it illegal by international law already when it was first passed.
The Settlement Regularization Law was passed in February last year, in order to retroactively legalize thousands of settler homes and structures built on Palestinian private land, to avert the possibility that the Supreme Court might one day sanction their removal. Before the law was passed, Israeli law still considered such structures illegal, even though under international law, absolutely all the settlements are a flagrant violation of international law, be they located on private land or not.
It was not only Haaretz that called the law a “theft law” – it was also longtime Likudniks such as lawmaker Benny Begin; Former Likud minister Dan Meridor called it “evil and dangerous”; even Prime Minister Netanyahu was warning that passing it may end up getting Israeli officials to the International Criminal Court in The Hague; attorney General Avichai Mandelblit’s stated refusal to defend the law in court was met with reassurance by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked that the state could simply get a private attorney (which it did). The contentious matter was not only the theft itself – but the application of Israeli law enacted directly by the Knesset (rather than by the Military occupation authority), that was seen as a precedence leading to de-facto annexation. As Dan Meridor wrote in his Haaretz opinion piece just ahead of the final vote on the law: