ANALYSIS: What Is the Arrangements Law?

Avichai Boaron seen by the remains of his demolished home in Amona, a few days after residents were evicted. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

It seems as though in the last 50 years there hasn’t been a law that has made Jews in Israel as happy as this law has, while on the other hand generating such fierce opposition.

The law passed this week, known as the Arrangements Law, is short for the “Law to Arrange the Jewish Settlement in Yehudah and Shomron.” It was presented by MKs from the national factions in the Knesset, after they learned that Leftist organizations funded by European countries and anti-Israel funds are searching for Palestinians to come and demand “their land” that Jews had built homes on.

There are two kinds of properties: those that belonged to Palestinian families many years ago, and “land registered [primarily in Jordan] as though they are under Palestinian ownership.”

Since Israel captured Yehudah and Shomron 50 years ago, there have been isolated cases of Arabs who presented documents indicating that Jewish homes were built on their land. Suddenly, in recent years, thousands of Palestinians have come forth with claims that their land had been “stolen” and Jewish homes built on it.

The reason for this is these Leftist organizations that have launched campaigns to find these people.

While there are some Jewish homes built on land owned by Palestinians before the Six Day war, they are few and far between. Israel’s government, which decided to build these homes, checked before building that there were no claims and, only after that, issued permits.

The few people who can actually prove ownership of the land need to be duly compensated. However, there is a much larger group of Palestinians who came forth with Jordanian slips of paper that say that “this land was given” to them “as a grant.”

Israel learned that in the decade prior to the Six-Day War, the Jordanian government was under pressure by army officers to raise wages. King Hussein, who did not have money to pay despite wanting to, decided to reward his officers with “rights to barren land in Yehudah and Shomron,” and issued slips of paper stating that.

The people who received the plots never intended to build there. The land was barren, and in remote locations far from civilization.

But the Leftist groups have begun searching for these people and filing lawsuits in their names demanding their land back. Israeli courts, largely filled with Left-leaning judges, began ruling in case after case that the Jews who built on these lands have to leave.

The Israeli government proposed compensating the owners with lots of money, far beyond the worth of the land, or offering them alternate land nearby. But under the advice of the organizations, the landowners unequivocally refused anything but the evacuation of the homes and their destruction. This was despite the fact that it was clear to all that once the Jews left the owners would not be coming to build there.

The Israeli government learned that there are cases being filed for some 2,500 homes in Yehudah and Shomron with this status, and that’s just the beginning.

Hence, they decided to take action. MKs from the national parties drafted a new law called the Arrangements Law, which would arrange the status of thousands of homes in the newer towns of Yehudah and Shomron, which courts have ruled are built on Palestinian privately owned land. According to the law, the land will remain registered in the owners’ names, but the State of Israel will expropriate the right to use it and will transfer the land to the overseer of government property in Yehudah and Shomron. In exchange, the Palestinians will be generously compensated or given an alternate piece of land, as they prefer.

This is where the opponents of the law accuse the Knesset of passing a law that indirectly annexes these lands to the State of Israel. They say that there are grounds to sue Israel in the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Meanwhile, the law has passed. But it is not likely to last long. Four appeals have already been filed with the High Court, which has a longstanding policy of annulling laws that the Knesset has passed.

The State Attorney General is also against the law, and hence, the assumption is that the High Court will accept the appeals, and it probably won’t take long before the judges rule that the law is unconstitutional and will strike it down.