Israel Revives 'Regularization' Bill to Authorize Seizing Palestinian Land for Settlements

Legislation headed for final approval on Monday, amended to potentially legalize homes in 16 more settlements than initially planned.

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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The settlement of Eli, September 2016.
A view of the settlement of Eli in September 2016.Credit: Emil Salman
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

Israel's Knesset is scheduled to vote on Monday on a revived "regularization bill" aimed at retroactively seizing private Palestinian land where settlement homes have been built to avoid a need for evictions, as in the case of the outpost of Amona.

The bill would allow the state to declare private Palestinian land on which settlements or outposts were built, “innocently or at the state’s instruction” as government property, and deny its owners the right to use or hold those lands until there is a diplomatic resolution of the status of the territories.

The purpose of the bill, the revised version says, is to “regulate settlement in Judea and Samaria and allow its continued establishment and development.”

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The measure provides a mechanism for compensating Palestinians whose lands will be seized. A landowner can receive an annual usage payment of 125 percent of the land’s value as determined by an assessment committee for renewable periods of 20 years, or an alternate plot of land if this is possible, whichever he chooses.

The bill also sets a timeline. Palestinian land would be registered as government property within a year of the law going into effect, and the Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria will assume rights to the lands within six months of the law taking effect.

Within 60 days of the registration or the assumption of the rights, the authorities will assign the usage and holding rights to these lands to the settlers whose homes were built on them

The measure was also revised on Sunday to add another 16 settlements and outposts to the list of potential places where the bill may be applied.

Demolition orders against homes built on land claimed by Palestinian owners would be frozen for a year pending proceedings to determine whether the state may seize the land.

The stay of legal and administrative proceedings would apply to properties in the settlements of Ofra, Eli, Netiv Ha’avot, Kokhav Hashahar, Mitzpe Kramim, Alon Moreh, Ma’aleh Mikhmash, Shavei Shomron, Kedumim, Psagot, Beit El, Yitzhar, Har Bracha, Modi’in Illit, Nokdim and Kokhav Yaakov.

The measure would also empower Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked to add more settlements and outposts to the list of areas where property may be seized from Palestinians, with the approval of the Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee.

The measure will not apply to the Amona outpost, which the High Court has ordered dismantled by February 8, nine homes in Ofra, and 16 homes in Netiv Ha’avot that the court has already ruled must be demolished.

Controversy over Amona, where settlers are threatening to resist evacuation after a plan to re-house them nearby fell through, provided a major impetus to the latest legislation.

The new version of the legislation was presented Sunday afternoon to the special committee to advance the bill, comprised of representatives of the Knesset’s Law and Foreign Affairs and Defense committees.

The panel has also received 227 objections filed by opposition members to the bill, which the committee is expected to vote on Monday before the bill is forwarded to the plenum for its second and third readings.

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