Israel legalises West Bank outpost, plans 500 new homes (AFP) AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE) 02/22/12)
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An Israeli committee on Wednesday legalised the unauthorised settler
outpost of Shvut Rachel in the northern West Bank and approved a plan
for 500 new homes there, a local official said.
The plan was approved by the higher planning council of the Israeli
civil administration, the military body that manages civilian affairs
most of the West Bank.
According to local settler council head Avi Roeh, the committee
formally issued the outpost with a zoning plan for 500 homes,
conferring legal status upon it.
"The residents will no longer be considered outlaws," he told AFP,
while saying it was likely to take years before they could start
"At least now, we will be able to erase the name Shvut Rachel from
Talia Sasson´s outpost list," he said, referring to government-
commissioned report on the phenomenon of unauthorised settler
The committee also agreed to retroactively legalise approximately 100
homes already built there, as well as 95 homes without permits in the
nearby settlement of Shilo, he said.
Earlier, civil administration spokesman Guy Inbar had told AFP the
committee was to approve plans for 500 new homes and retroactively
legalise around 200 others in Shvut Rachel and the nearby settlement
Shilo is a settlement with 2,000 residents which lies some 30
kilometres (18 miles) south of Nablus. Shvut Rachel, is a nearby
outpost which is home to 400 people.
Yariv Oppenheimer, head of the settlement watchdog Peace Now,
described the move as "one of the biggest projects in the
The decision proved Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was "doing
everything he could to prevent the creation of two states for two
peoples," he told AFP.
The plans provoked an angry reaction from the Palestinian Authority,
which said the aim was to destroy any chance of a two-state solution
to the decades-long conflict.
"These decisions are designed primarily to attack and destroy the
option of the two-state solution," Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat
"We strongly condemn this new settlement decision, which once again
confirms beyond any doubt that the government of Israel has chosen
settlement instead of peace."
He also pointed the finger at the Quartet of Middle East peacemakers,
which comprises diplomats from Russia, the United Nations, the
European Union and the United States.
"There are some parties of the Quartet that provide protection for
Israeli settlement practices and its continued occupation of the
Palestinian territories," he said.
"It is time for these countries to increase the pressure on Israel´s
practices against the Palestinian people and stop dealing with Israel
as a country above the law."
The UN´s Middle East envoy Robert Serry condemned the move
as "deplorable" and said it "moves us further away from the goal of a
Israel considers settlement outposts built without government
approval to be illegal and often sends security personnel to demolish
them, although in recent months the government has announced its
intention to retroactively legalise a number of them.
More than 310,000 Israelis live in settlements in the occupied West
Bank and the number is constantly growing.
Another 200,000 live in a dozen settlement neighbourhoods in east
Jerusalem, which was captured by Israel in 1967 and annexed in a move
never recognised by the international community.
The international community considers all settlements in territories
occupied by Israel since the 1967 Middle East war are illegal,
whether or not approved by its government. (Copyright © 2012 Agence
France Presse. 02/22/12)
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