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Jewish outpost expanded onto private Palestinian land (HAŽARETZ NEWS) By Jonathan Lis, Barak Ravid and Amos Harel 04/19/12)Source: http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/jewish-outpost-expanded-onto-private-palestinian-land-1.425151 HA'ARETZ} NEWS SERVICE HA'ARETZ} NEWS SERVICE Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
Some 20 homes that have been built in the Mitzpeh Cramim outpost during the past year could spark a similar coalition crisis to the one recently created by the Ulpana neighborhood in the settlement of Beit El, according to sources in the defense establishment.

The prefabricated and permanent homes, in the outpost northeast of Ramallah, were all built on land that the state officially recognizes as being privately owned by Palestinians.

Sources in the defense establishment warn that the situation could spark the next crisis in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu´s cabinet, similar to the one that erupted over the Ulpana neighborhood and the outposts of Givat Assaf and Migron, also built on private land. Meanwhile, settlers have moved into the buildings at Mitzpeh Cramim.

Construction in the outpost has continued unhindered, despite the Defense Ministry´s Civil Administration´s orders to stop the the work. The orders were issued in 2011.

Defense sources told Haaretz that the construction in Mitzpeh Cramim was illegal but admitted that no real steps had been taken to stop it.

The fact that construction in Mitzpeh Cramim is on officially recognized private land makes it difficult to find a compromise or to play legal tricks to enable the settlers to stay there legally, the sources said.

Mitzpeh Cramim is located some 700 meters away from the settlement of Kochav Hashahar. The outpost was set up in 1999 and almost all the buildings in it are on private land belonging to Palestinians from the nearby villages of Dir Jarir and Kafr Malik. It is defined as an illegal outpost in an influential report that was prepared by attorney Talia Sasson for the state in 2005.

The new structures were set up by Amana, the settlement arm of the Gush Emunim movement.

Shortly after the Civil Administration issued the order to stop the building last year, the Dir Jarir local council petitioned the High Court of Justice over the construction.

The defense sources said that, once a High Court hearing is under way, no move can be taken until the court gives its verdict. The sources admitted that, due to the political sensitivity of evacuating outposts, the political leadership is unlikely to deal with the issue as long as a court verdict doesn´t force it to make a move.

Dror Etkes, a peace activist monitoring Israel´s settlement policy in the territories, said: "The new construction in Mitzpeh Cramim is one of hundreds of examples that collaboration with the settlers has become part of the Israel Defense Forces and Civil Administration´s DNA.

"Due to this collaboration these bodies don´t learn any lessons from their past failures, and continue to neglect their duty to protect Palestinians´ private property," he added. "In so doing they are deepening the rift between the settlements and the rule of law." (© Copyright 2012 Ha´aretz 04/19/12)

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