Israeli government defends law legalizing some settlements


JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Israeli government said a law that legalizes certain settlements built on Palestinian property is “a humane, proportional and reasonable response to the genuine distress of Israeli residents.”

On Monday, the state submitted a brief to the Supreme Court supporting what is known as the Regulation Law. A private attorney submitted the brief after the country’s attorney general told the court he was against the legislation and would not defend it.

The brief says the law is legal under Israeli law and international law, refuting the opinion of the attorney general, Avichai Mandelblit.

The Supreme Court last week postponed for two months implementation of the law, which several Palestinian authorities have challenged.

The law allows the government to expropriate private Palestinian land on which illegal outpost homes have been built. However, the outpost must have been built in good faith or have government support. Palestinian landowners are to be compensated financially or with other land.

Widely condemned by Israeli and foreign activists, the law could allow the government to retroactively legalize some 4,000 illegally built Israeli homes.

Ahead of the final Knesset votes on the measure in February, Mandelblit warned that it violated Israeli and international law. After the bill passed, Mandelblit officially notified the Supreme Court that he would not defend the legislation if it were challenged.

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