Israel confirms de facto annexation of West Bank lands

Adalah & JLAC: Israeli government response to Supreme Court petition against Settlements Regularization Law views West Bank settlements as already annexed to Israel.

Israel has confirmed what amounts to a de facto annexation of the West Bank with the state's 21 August 2017 response to a petition filed against the Settlements Regularization Law by Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, Jerusalem Legal Aid Center (JLAC), and Al Mezan Center for Human Rights (Gaza). 


According to the Settlements Regularization Law, West Bank settlements built on privately-owned Palestinian land would be "legalized" by de facto expropriating the land, planning the settlements, and retroactively authorizing the housing already constructed on the land. The law would "regularize" these settlements in the West Bank with territories unilaterally annexed by Israel such as the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem, in direct violation of international law.


Aerial photograph of the Israeli settlement of Beit El illustrating the borders of the Palestinian municipalities within which it has been constructed. CLICK HERE for more. (Photo courtesy of Arab Studies Society)


The government’s response essentially confirms the state's application of Israeli civil law, rather than international humanitarian law, to a territory that is occupied and administered by the Israeli military.


Adalah, JLAC, and Al Mezan filed their petition on behalf of 17 Palestinian local councils in the West Bank in February 2017.


Adalah and JLAC issued a response to the Israeli government's 156-page reply:


"The state's position amounts to a de facto annexation of the West Bank. It ignores the fact that the area is occupied territory under Israeli military control. In its response, in fact, the state suspends the applicability of international law to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and instead applies Israeli law in an explicit and unequivocal manner. With this law, Israel grossly violates international law, preferring both its own illegitimate interests as the occupying power and those of Israeli Jewish settlers over the rights of Palestinian residents. We believe that the Supreme Court must make a swift decision to invalidate all of the clauses of the law."


Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit had refused to represent the Israeli government before the Supreme Court on the issue.


The Attorney General and the Knesset must still submit their responses to the Supreme Court petition.


Israeli Border Police troops look out towards an Israeli settlement in the West Bank. (Photo by Mati Milstein)


CLICK HERE for aerial imagery of Israeli settlements built within West Bank Palestinian municipalities [English & Arabic]


READ: State’s response to the petition [Hebrew]


READ: Adalah’s English translation of the petition


READ: Adalah’s English translation of the law


Case Citation: HCJ 1308/17, Silwad Municipality, et. al. v. The Knesset, et. al (case pending)