Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Bill to retroactively legalise outposts "blow to the final opportunity for a two-state solution"


By The Palestine Monitor - November 15, 2016
TAGS:
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [settlement construction] [Two State Solution]

On Sunday, Israel’s ministerial committee for legislation unanimously approved a bill to retroactively legalise West Bank outposts built on private Palestinian land. The bill must still pass a preliminary reading, scheduled for November 16, and three readings in Israel’s parliament before becoming law.

The 'formalisation bill' distinguishes between ownership of land and the right to use land, enabling the government to use private Palestinian land without taking ownership of it. It would only apply to settlements that the Israeli government was involved in establishing, and would allow settlers to use the argument that they acted in 'good faith’. Palestinians who prove ownership would receive compensation.
 
The law would apply to Amona, the illegal outpost slated for evacuation by the end of December following a ruling by the Israeli High Court of Justice earlier this year. The outpost was built on private Palestinian land belonging to residents of the nearby villages of Silwad, Taybeh and Ein Yabrud, who filed a petition in 2008. They succeeded in proving land ownership and getting the State to admit the construction of Amona was illegal. The High Court first ruled Amona should be evacuated by April 2013 and Palestinians be allowed to return to their lands.
 
A legal battle has been waging since, and the demolition was postponed a number of times. On Monday, the High Court rejected a government petition to delay the evacuation by another six months.
 
"The obligation to honour court rulings is not a matter of choice. It is essential to government by law to which everyone is subject," said the Court in a statement to Israeli newspaper Haaretz.
 
Yet the fate of Amona settlers remains unclear. All settlements are considered illegal under international law, while outposts are illegal under Israeli law as well. However, Israel has for years been 'quietly' legalising outposts and authorising illegal construction on land declared as public. The bill approved on Monday would allow Israel to go a step further.
 
Yesh Din, an Israeli organisation that represents Palestinians in land cases in the West Bank, said that, if passed into law, the bill would serve to "institutionalize the mass theft of land throughout the West Bank while trampling every value that the State of Israel pretends to uphold.”
 
Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi condemned it as a “direct violation of international law and conventions that prohibit racism and territorial expansion as the result of war and violence.”
 
"It is a blow to the final opportunity for a two-state solution,” Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, Secretary General of the Palestinian National Initiative, told Palestine Monitor.
 
“With this law, Israel is killing the option of a Palestinian state. Israel has not dared to take this step in the past because of pressure from the international community. So we must put pressure on the international community - on the US and Europe - to punish Israel for its illegal actions that deny the rights of Palestinians to live in their own land," Barghouti said.
 

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