A new policy has been officially declared by the State in a couple of Peace Now’s petitions to the High Court and in other petitions submitted by Yesh Din and Palestinians, regarding illegal construction in the West Bank. The State declared to the court that the illegal construction that can be authorized (i.e. on land that can be declared as State Land) will be approved. Construction on private Palestinian land that cannot be declared as State Land will be dismantled in a year’s time.
This new policy, if implemented, requires the Israeli Cabinet to convene and officially decide on the establishment of new settlements, for the first time since the Oslo process started in early 90’s.
On Sunday, May 1, 2011, the state presented its response in the Shvut Rachel petition, announcing its intention to retroactively legalize the outpost and all of its illegal structures (more than 100), on the condition that the settlers demolish the new construction at the center of the petition (work on 20 illegal buildings and 9 caravans that began immediately following the settlement freeze in October 2010).
On May 2nd, the court issued an interim injunction forbidding any construction or commercial activity on the site.
A similar response was given in the Hayovel and Haresha petition. The state declared that while it has no intention to demolish the house of Maj. Eliraz Peretz z”l, who was killed in Gaza in 2010, it will demolish two other houses sitting on private Palestinian land in Hayovel. At the same time, it is intending to legalizeboth outposts and provide permits for the existing buildings built on lands that can be declared as “state lands.”
More on the declaration of “State Land” see here.
In another petition by “Yesh Din”, regarding illegal construction in the Outpost of Rechelim – the State declared that it will legalize the outpost. Such a move will require a cabinet decision on the establishment of the new settlement.
In two other petitions by “Yesh Din” against illegal construction on private Palestinian land (that cannot be declared as “State Land”) in Beit El, the State promised to demolish the construction within a year. This will require the eviction of a few dozens of families and the demolition of almost dozens of housing units.
While Peace Now had previously declared that it does not demand the demolition of the houses of the Peretz and Klein families, the government is taking advantage of this situation to legalize dozens of residential units in the midst of the occupied territories.
This is not merely a formal move, or a matter of technical definition – legalizing an outpost implies a formal government decision to establish a new settlement, a move which has been avoided, for political reasons, since 1992.
We hope that Netanyahu will avoid such a politically lethal move.