Israel’s Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday against legislation aimed at retroactively legalizing settlements in certain parts of Judea and Samaria. The Judea and Samaria Regulation Law, passed by the Knesset in 2017, allows for the legalization of the status of Israeli residences built on Palestinian-owned land.

In a nearly unanimous decision, eight of the nine justices on the panel ruled the Regulation Law “unconstitutional,” on the grounds that it “violates the property rights and equality of Palestinians, and gives clear priority to the interests of Israeli settlers over Palestinian residents.”

The law, which has been frozen since its passage three years ago, stipulates that the land on which the settlements have been built will remain the property of their legal Palestinian owners, but their usage will be expropriated by Israel. In exchange, the owners will be compensated at a rate of 125 percent of the property’s value.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party responded by stating, “It is unfortunate that the Supreme Court would invalidate an important ruling for settlement and its future. We will work to legislate a new law.”

Likud’s partners in the government, the Blue and White Party—led by Defense Minister and Vice Premier Benny Gantz—reacted differently, saying, “We respect the Supreme Court’s decision and will make sure it is upheld.”

The power of the courts was one of the key issues in the recent rounds of Knesset elections, and remains a main point of contention between the right and the left, with the former vowing to fight against judicial overreach and the latter defending the judges’ intervening in political matters.

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