A newly released report says Israeli attorney general Avichai Mendelblit approved last year the use of a controversial 1967 order to legalize settler units built on private Palestinian land.
During a meeting attended by several Israeli judicial officials, Mendelblit said the “Order Concerning Government Property,” which was issued in July 1967, could be invoked to expropriate Palestinian land, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported on Sunday.
Clause 5 of the order states that “any transaction concluded in good faith between the authorities and another person … will not be struck down and is valid, even if it is proven that the asset was not government property at the time of its purchase.”
Mendelblit’s office said in a document that the clause had rarely been used in almost five decades, but “the need to make use of it has arisen now.”
It further set out a number of conditions for invoking the clause, such as purchase in good faith, the existence of a contract and payment having been made for the land.
“The use of Clause 5 should be limited as a rule to the built residential boundaries of the community, and to actual construction done before the parties to the transaction became aware that this was in fact not government property,” the document added.
Back in February, the Israeli parliament, known as the Knesset, passed a law on the expropriation of privately-owned Palestinian land in the West Bank, where Israeli settlements or outposts have been constructed.
However, Palestinians filed petitions to the Israeli High Court against the law.
Mendelblit proposed that the Israeli parliament suspend the land garb law until the court rules on the petitions and the Knesset accepted the bid.
Dror Etkes, Israeli anti-settlement activist, said the document by Mendelblit’s office seems to be “a parallel path being prepared … for the day after the High Court tosses the [expropriation] law into the garbage.”
“The purpose of this legal construction, rotten from the foundation, is to raise the claim of ‘good faith’ wherever Israel has stolen private Palestinian land and given it to settlers,” he said. “This is a situation in which lies, denial, violence and manipulation prevail – that is, everything except good faith.”
About 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 settlements built illegally since the 1967 occupation of the Palestinian territories.
The continued expansion of Israeli settlements is one of the major obstacles to the establishment of peace in the Middle East.
In recent months, Tel Aviv has stepped up its settlement construction activities in the occupied Palestinian territories in a blatant violation of international law and in defiance of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334.
The resolution, which was passed last December, states that Israel’s establishment of settlements in the occupied territories, including East Jerusalem al-Quds, “had no legal validity” and urges the regime to immediately and completely cease all its settlement activities.