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Opinion Shame on me for believing courts could stop the Israeli settlement machine

A 4-3 majority allowed a settlement to stay on land privately owned by Palestinians, thereby giving judicial approval to theft. A famous case in 1979, the Supreme Court ruled that the government was wrong to put a settlement on land that the army had requisitioned, purportedly for military needs. But a precedent had been set: There were limits to what the state could do in occupied territory. In the early aughts, opponents of settlement couldn’t defeat it with one grand judicial decision, they could still wage a legal war of attrition. But the court seemed to have at least one red line: It would protect Palestinians’ private property rights. Nonetheless, the ground did not shake in other settlements, he writes.

Judges applied private law suitable to disputes within the boundaries of the state, to relations between the occupier and the occupied. Under international law, even if the land in question really was public property, it shouldn’t have been allocated to settlers. The settlement enterprise is built on ignoring that principle.