Defender of Land Grab Law Illegally Building Settlement Home

Attorney Harel Arnon insists construction is legal, but Civil Administration disagrees

The construction site of attorney Arnon's home in El'azar.
Olivier Fitoussi

Attorney Harel Arnon, who is representing the state in an appeal against the “Expropriation Law” allowing Israel to retroactively approve illegal construction on private Palestinian land in the West Bank, is illegally building a home in the settlement of El’azar in Gush Etzion.

The home is being built outside of the settlement’s development plans, on land claimed for military use. The Israeli Civil Administration that oversees the West Bank and is responsible for allocating land in El’azar, confirmed that the home is being constructed illegally and that development plans have designated the property for the building of a public square.

This designation meant that the land was never declared as state-owned land and has remained a military expropriation since the ‘70s.

In response, Arnon said the Expropriation Law would have no effect on the home he’s building, and claimed the Civil Administration had legally allocated the land his home is being built on.

According to Arnon, “The Expropriation Law is intended to regulate construction on land that was not allocated by the commissioner for settlement. Since all the lands in the community of El’azar, and especially my home, were legally allocated by the commissioner (the Civil Administration), there is no ‘complication’ and no connection to the Expropriation Law or the results of the appeal against it.

“I don’t know of any claim that this is private land except that the entire settlement of El’azar sits on land that was seized militarily by the authorities nearly 40 years ago.”

Arnon is considered one of the leading legal minds in Israel and a politically right-wing expert in his field. The state hired him as its representative in an appeal against the Expropriation Law in the High Court, at a cost of 140,000 shekels (nearly $39,000).

Arnon was hired to represent the state in the High Court after Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit refused to do so due to his belief that the law is unconstitutional. Arnon disagreed with Mendelblit and took the job.