Israel authorises three West Bank settlement outposts (BBC) British Broadcasting Company) 24 April 2012 Last updated at 10:22 GMT)
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Israel has decided to make legal under Israeli law three settlement
outposts in the West Bank, the prime minister´s office has said in a
It said that a ministerial committee had decided to "formalise the
status" of Bruchin and Rechelim, in the north, and Sansana, near
Hebron in the south.
The Palestinian Authority strongly condemned the decision.
"Every single settlement built on Palestinian land is illegal", Chief
Negotiator, Saeb Erekat, told the BBC.
The Israeli government had told the Supreme Court that it would
regulate the status of the three outposts, which have a total of
about 830 residents.
On Sunday, Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, formed a new
committee, made up of four ministers, to look into the sites.
The statement said the "three communities... were established in the
1990s following the decisions of past governments".
Speaking to the BBC on Tuesday, an Israeli official disputed the use
of the word "outposts" to describe Bruchin, Rechelim and Sansana. He
said a process was under way to formalise the changes in their legal
"The decision does not make any changes on the ground. It does not
mean any expansion of existing settlements or establishment of new
ones," he added.
Israel considers settlement outposts built without government
approval to be illegal or unauthorised.
About 500,000 Jews live in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem,
in what the Israeli government considers legal settlements.
The international community considers all settlements in the occupied
West Bank to be illegal under international law.
The Palestinians point out that this announcement comes a week after
the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas sent a letter to Mr
In it, he asked that Israel freeze all settlement construction and
accept the borders which were in place before the 1967 Middle East
war as the basis for those of a future Palestine, with mutually
"I don´t want to get into a discussion about what the Israelis use as
an excuse for what is legal and what is not," says Mr Erekat, who
handed the letter to the Israeli Prime Minister. "The Israeli
government must choose between peace and settlements. It cannot have
After the meeting with Palestinian officials, Mr Netanyahu´s office
said both sides were "committed to reach peace" and that an Israeli
reply to the Palestinian letter would be sent within two weeks.
The Israeli settlement watchdog, Peace Now, has also criticised the
Israeli government´s legalisation of the outposts.
"This is the first time since 1990 that the Israeli government has
decided to establish new settlements," said Hagit Ofran from the
"The government tries to deceive the Israeli public, bypassing the
need to officially declare these three new settlements. However these
tricks do not cover up their real policy to establish new settlements
and not move towards peace and a two-state solution," she added. (©
BBC MMXII 04/24/12)
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