High Court Suspends Implementation of Settlement Arrangements Law

General view of construction in Ariel, in the Shomron. (Flash90)

The High Court has suspended implementation of the Settlement Arrangements Law, passed by the Knesset last February. Implementation of the law was delayed at the request of State Attorney Avihai Mandelblit, who was opposed to it in the first place. The suspension will continue for two months, while lawmakers gather to discuss the legal implications of the measure.

The suspension was granted in response to lawsuits by Arab groups against the law’s implementation. The law was passed earlier this year after numerous objections by the state attorney and legal experts.

Sponsors of the bill, most notably Education Minister Naftali Bennett, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and Housing Minister Yoav Galant, said that all legal issues have been hammered out, and that the law would stand legal tests both in the High Court and international tribunals. Mandelblit has said in the past that he does not believe he can successfully defend the law before the High Court.

The purpose of the law is to prevent demolition of Israeli houses inadvertently built on land claimed by Arabs in Yehudah and Shomron. The law replaces the process that had been in place previously, in which Arab claims of ownership of land on which Israeli homes are built were adjudicated by the High Court. The bill instead institutes a special arbitration process that would, among other things, advocate land swaps that would replace the land claimed by Palestinians with state land of equal or greater value that is not in dispute.

MK Moti Yogev (Jewish Home), chairperson of the Knesset Committee for Matters Concerning Yehudah and Shomron, said that the court decision was another impetus for changing the status of the court altogether.

“This once again proves that the Governance Law, in which the High Court will not have the last word on legislation passed by the Knesset, is an absolute necessity. The Governance Law is the only way we will be able to restore order to south Tel Aviv, continue building in Yehudah and Shomron, and ensure a Jewish majority in the Galilee and Negev,” all areas in which the High Court has ruled against either allowing construction for Jews, or prevented the government from dismantling illegal Arab outposts and villages built on state land.