On the backdrop of Attorney General Mandelblit’s declared refusal to defend before the Supreme Court the “Regularization Law” enacted by the Knesset over six months ago, the government has retained the service of a private attorney, himself a settler, to do so.
The Regularization Law allows the Israeli government to retroactively sanction the construction of some 4,000-settler homes built on privately owned Palestinian land that was illegally expropriated for unauthorized outposts, provided that the homes were “built in good faith” or had government support.
The passage of the law, originally intended to save the subsequently-razed settlement of Amona, has been roundly condemned by a coalition of peace activists and Left political figures in Israel and abroad.
The law’s legality was immediately challenged in a petition submitted to the Supreme Court by Peace Now, Yesh Din and ACRI (Association for Civil Rights in Israel) on behalf of 27 Palestinian local councils and 13 Israeli civil society organizations.
In light of Attorney General Mandelblit’s position on the law, the government has secured the services of a private attorney, Harel Arnon, who drew up a 156-page brief arguing that there is only “a minor infringement of property rights” involved, and that the law is justified by an overriding “national interest.” He went on to claim that it would actually be “good for the Palestinian owners themselves” to have their land confiscated.
When the Knesset passed the law despite the attorney general’s opposition, Mandelblit officially notified the Supreme Court that he would not defend the legislation if it were challenged. Arnon was subsequently chosen to represent the state in place of Mandeblit. In May, Haaretz revealed that Arnon’s own home in the Elazar settlement in the occupied Palestinian territories is being built illegally on land that had been designated strictly for “military purposes.”
In an unprecedented move, Attorney General Mandelblit actually intends to present to the Supreme Court arguments against the legality of the Regularization Law sponsored by the government which, ordinarily, he is supposed to represent.
Related: Knesset Approves Controversial Settlement “Regularization Law”