According to reports, the Minister of Defense approved the construction of 60 housing units in “Gevaot” – which is today a small site of mobile homes west of Bethlehem. In 1982 the Government of Israel approved the establishment of Gevaot as a Military base. During the 90’s, the soldiers were replaced by Yeshiva students that occupied the 30 caravans on site.
In 1998 the site was included within the official Municipal Borders of the settlement of Alon Shvut, which is located 3 km away from Gevaot. This way the Minister of Defense can claim that the approval of the 60 units is not an establishment of a new settlement but an expansion of an existing settlement.
In the past, the Ministry of Housing prepared a plan (which was never advanced or approved) to build in Gevaot a city of some 15,000 housing units.
According to Peace Now’s count, Gevaot is the third new settlement approved by Ehud Barak as Minister of Defense. In 2008 the Minister approved a construction plan for the settlement of Maskiyot, at the Jordan Valley, which was at the time a Yeshiva with few mobile homes. In 2011 Barak approved a plan for 50 units in Kfar Eldad which was set up as a temporary site for the settlers of Nokdim, East of Bethlehem.
While the Minister of Defense might claim that officially those approvals are not of new settlements, on the ground they allow the establishment of new permanent settlements that were till today temporary sites or education facilities.
In addition to those 3 settlements, the governmnet also declared in court the intention to legalize 11 outposts, and to offically recognize the establishment of them as new settlements.