Israel legalizes three West Bank outposts (WASHINGTON POST) By Karin Brulliard JERUSALEM, ISRAEL 04/24/12)
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JERUSALEM — Israel announced Tuesday that it has legalized three
unauthorized Jewish outposts in the West Bank, a move that
Palestinians and anti-settlement activists condemned as a step toward
creating the first new settlements in more than a decade.
The decision marked the latest effort by Israel’s right-wing
coalition government to prevent evictions — some of them court-
ordered — of Jewish settlers who have established communities without
government permission in the West Bank, where Israel occupies land
that Palestinians want for a future state.
Settlements are a core point of dispute in the frozen peace talks
between Israel and the Palestinians, who view the housing
developments as Israeli land-grabbing and want construction to stop
before resuming negotiations. Israel says the issue should be
discussed during peace talks.
Although most foreign governments consider all settlements illegal,
Israel applies that label only to about 100 so-called outposts that
were built without official authorization, sometimes on private
Palestinian land. Past Israeli governments have pledged to dismantle
the outposts but have rarely moved to do so, and authorities have
instead provided them with sewage, water and other services.
In a short statement issued Tuesday, the government said that a
ministerial committee had decided to “formalize” the three outposts
of Sansana, Bruchin and Rechelim, whose establishment it attributed
to “previous governments.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been pressured to save the
outposts by pro-settlement allies, some of whom have threatened to
leave the governing coalition over the issue. Last month, the Israeli
Supreme Court knocked back a government effort to delay the
evacuation of the largest outpost, Migron, a ruling that energized
efforts by conservative lawmakers to “retroactively” legalize the
Anti-settlement activists say such efforts amount to the creation of
new settlements, the first since the 1990s.
“This announcement is against the Israeli interest of achieving peace
and a two-state solution,” the group Peace Now, which opposes
settlements, said in a statement.
Netanyahu has also pledged to block the scheduled razing on May 1 of
apartment buildings in another outpost, Ulpana, which the Supreme
Court had ordered because they were built on private Palestinian land.
“We are searching for legal ways because we are a state of law,”
Netanyahu told Army Radio on Tuesday. (© 2010 The Washington Post
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