Settlers in Israel see a chance for more settlements in the Supreme Court reform

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Israeli settler Arye Weinstock
NOS News

Tens of thousands of Israelis took to the streets again today to demonstrate against plans by the new far-right government. He wants to give the Supreme Court less power. Many Israelis fear that this move to have a majority of parliament overturn court decisions will harm Israeli democracy. But settlers are happy with the reform plans and have pinned their hopes on this new cabinet.

One of them is Arye Weinstock. He lives in a settlement in the occupied West Bank. Under international law, Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory are illegal, but Weinstock believes he has a right to the land: “This is the land of my ancestors, not a settlement. These areas are Judea and Samaria and the tribe of Judah. ​​So Jews have always been here and that’s why this is my land.”

As far as Weinstock is concerned, there should be many more settlements. But although the existing settlements have been expanded considerably for decades, settlers are not allowed to just set up a new settlement without permission from the Israeli authorities. Yet that happens regularly.

Such so-called outposts are also illegal according to Israel itself. And the Supreme Court can have such an ‘outpost’ evicted. “Palestinians can go to the Supreme Court to prove that they own a piece of land. If they are proven right, the court will rule that such a new settlement must be evacuated,” says Noa Shusterman. She is a researcher at INNS, the Israeli National Security Research Institute.

According to Shusterman, Palestinians are not always right, but with the right papers they can in some cases get their land back through the Supreme Court.

That also happened near the settlement where Weinstock lives. Settlers established a settlement there without the permission of the authorities. But a Palestinian knocked on the court’s door to prove that this land belonged to him. He was right and so the settlers had to move.

To Weinstock’s frustration: “Obviously we’re not happy about that. And that’s exactly why we need to change the Supreme Court. That’s why I voted for this government. That’s the top priority for me.”

But according to Shusterman, the legal reforms will further strain the relationship with the Palestinians: “We already see tensions rising and the settlements are an important factor in that. Palestinians see more and more construction next to them, while they see that land as their future Palestinian state. The only body they could go to is the Supreme Court. So if that also disappears, the situation could escalate.”


Last Sunday, the cabinet announced that it would add 10,000 houses to the existing settlements and legalize nine outposts. It would be in response to attacks in Jerusalem two weeks ago.

There is a good chance that the Supreme Court will block this latest decision, because the government must first prove that the land is state property, as the government claims. That will be difficult, because many of the outposts are (partly) on land that is privately owned by Palestinians.

But that process can take months, even years. And the question is whether the Supreme Court will still have the authority to actually block such a decision by then.

  • ‘Black Monday’ in Israel: Tens of thousands protest against Supreme Court government plans
  • Most right-wing government in Israel’s history installed
  • Israeli settlers attack Palestinians and their own army
  • Abroad

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