Israel 'planning to legalise' 70 settler outposts in West Bank

Israel 'planning to legalise' 70 settler outposts in West Bank
Israel's deputy defence minister said a team has been set up to look into the process of authorising 70 illegal settler outposts in the West Bank.
2 min read
17 January, 2018
Illegal Israeli outposts are primarily populated by ideological hardline settlers [Getty]
Israel is planning to legalise 70 outposts in the West Bank, the defence ministry said late on Tuesday. 

Deputy Defence Minister Eli Ben-Dahan discussed the plan in a Jewish Home faction meeting at the Knesset earlier this week, a video of which was leaked to Channel 2 News, The Jerusalem Post reported.

Ben-Dahan said that a team of four or five ministers had been established six months ago to identify outposts that could be legalised and to rank them by how difficult such legalisation would be.

Around 70 such outposts had been identified, he said. noting that some of them could be legalised relatively easily.

Outposts are settlements built without government approval and are considered illegal under Israeli law. They're usually pre-fabricated houses with basic utilities such as electricity and water that are not connected to the national networks.

They are constructed in far-flung areas of the West Bank and are primarily populated by ideological hardline settlers

Ben-Dahan said the Rabin government in 1992 passed a resolution blocking both construction and authorisation of unauthorised outposts, but if this resolution was simply overturned, many outposts could be easily authorised. 

According to Peace Now NGO, there are 97 unauthorised outposts across the West Bank.

In August 2017, Israel's Supreme Court suspended a "land-grab" bill that would have retrospectively authorised illegal outposts, effectively allowing the theft of private Palestinian land.

The law was met with international condemnation, with the UN stating it crossed a "thick red line".

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's right-wing government has called for the annexation of much of the West Bank, a move that would end any hope of an independent Palestinian state.

Ben-Dahan declined to comment further on the remarks, Jerusalem Post reported, saying he would not respond to reports resulting from leaked internal party discussions.