In response to the severe terror attacks in Jerusalem, the Israeli security cabinet decided on Sunday, 12/02/2023, to establish nine new settlements in the occupied territories by authorizing ten illegal outposts.
The authorization of the outposts will approve approximately 335 housing units spread over more than 1,100 dunams, including about 420 dunams of private Palestinian land. Access routes for some of the outposts also involve trespassing on private Palestinian land, while three of the outposts are partially located in fire zones (Avigayil, Givat Arnon, and Malachei Hashalom).
The decision of the political and security cabinet was made after the Israeli government authorized it to decide regarding the legalization of the outposts. In view of this, it is unclear whether another government decision is necessary to authorize the new settlements.
In addition to the government’s decision, in order to complete the authorization of the outposts, there will now be a need for the approval of a building plan for the outposts. This means that in practice, the authorization of the outposts will very likely lead to further expansion of housing units and infrastructure in the settlements, throughout the West Bank.
Peace Now: “The Israeli government continues to act with determination in order to deepen the occupation and create facts on the ground to prevent the possibility of a future Palestinian state. The promotion of thousands of housing units in settlements in addition to the decision to establish nine new settlements, through the authorization and expansion of outposts, jeopardizes the possibility of a future Palestinian State as well as a prize for criminals and violent settlers. Anyone who is concerned about the judiciary and regime change that the government is advancing, needs to look at what it is vigorously promoting in the occupied territories, which too is an existential threat. While the immediate and primary victims are the Palestinian residents and the Palestinian people as a whole, the government imposes on all Israelis to live in a non-democratic state because there cannot be a democracy alongside occupation and settlements.”
Reward for illegal settlement and encouragement to continue the rampage in the occupied territories:
All the illegal outposts were built in violation of Israeli law and regulations in the occupied territories, and their legalization is an incentive to continue the rampage in the area. Needless to say, all settlements are considered illegal under international law. In many cases, outposts are located on private Palestinian land, but even in cases when they are established on public lands (“state lands”), the outposts are considered illegal by Israel since the land on which they are situated was not allocated to them, and the construction was carried out without a valid building plan and construction permits. Every structure in outposts has a demolition order in effect. (For more on the phenomenon of the outposts, click here).
Land-grab of Palestinian land
As mentioned above, in many cases, the outposts forcibly seize private Palestinian land. Therefore, the legalization of these outposts will exacerbate this phenomenon. In other cases, private lands of Palestinian farmers and landowners are trapped around or within the outposts, making access to them virtually impossible, due to the presence of settlers and the military.
In some of the outposts, and also on some of the 10 authorized outposts, there is a phenomenon of settler violence against Palestinians coming from them. Rather than combating this, authorizing the outposts rewards such violence and encourages it.
A severe blow to the chance for a political agreement and for the creation of a Palestinian State:
The goal of establishing new settlements or outposts is to establish facts on the ground and control the Palestinian territory in order to prevent the possibility of a future Palestinian state. The vast majority of the outposts are located deep in the West Bank and encompass significant amounts of land in an area that, in any future agreement, will be part of the Palestinian state. Seizing this land and establishing facts on the ground changes the reality and reduces the chances of reaching agreements to end the conflict in the future. Authorizing these outposts precisely does this and diminishes the chance for peace. (For more information on authorizing settlements, click here).
List of outposts designated for “whitewashing”:
Established in 2001, with about 48 housing units, each one of them facing demolition. The state has expressed its intention to legalize the outpost, which is built on about 85 dunams of land, including 80 dunams of state land, 2 dunams of privately-owned Palestinian land, and 3 dunams of survey land. The access roads to the outpost are built on private land, and part of the outpost is located in the Military Firing Zone 918. Previous building plans for the outpost were rejected.
Beit Hogla (Mul Nevo):
Established in 2001, with about 22 housing units, each one of them facing demolition. The outpost was built on 37 dunams of state land. In the past, a building plan for the outpost was rejected.
Givat Haroeh and Givat Harel:
These are two separate outposts located north of Ramallah and near the settlement of Shiloh. It is unclear whether they will be merged or recognized as separate settlements, as they have been managed separately for many years.
Givat Haroeh was established in 2002 and currently consists of approximately 33 housing units, each of which has a demolition order. As part of government decision 7891/07, the state announced its intention to consider the regularization of the outpost. The outpost covers an area of 40 dunams, including one dunam of state land, 22 dunams of private Palestinian land, and 17 dunams of survey land. A building plan for the outpost was rejected in the past.
Givat Harel was established in 1998 and currently consists of approximately 53 housing units, each of which has a demolition order. Additionally, many agricultural areas in the vicinity are operated by settlers from the outpost. The outpost covers an area of 308 dunams, including 57 dunams of state land and 251 dunams of private Palestinian land. There was a past plan for construction in the outpost which was frozen, and another one that was rejected.
Givat Arnon (Hill 777):
The outpost was established in 1999, and around 43 housing units were built there, each with a demolition order. The outpost covers an area of 348 dunams, of which 334 dunams are on state land and 14 dunams are on private Palestinian land. A frozen building plan was previously proposed for the outpost. Part of the outpost is located in a military Firing Zone in northern West Bank.
Mitzpe Yehuda (Kedar East):
The outpost was established in 2019 as an agricultural farm, and to date, about 4 buildings have been built, each of which is subject to a demolition order. The area of the outpost is 24 dunams, one of which is on private Palestinian land. No building plan has been deposited with the Higher Planning Council for the outpost.
The outpost was established in 2015, and to date, about 10 buildings have been built, each of which has a demolition order. The area of the outpost is 129 dunams, all of which are, most probably, on private Palestinian land. Part of the outpost is built on a firing zone. No building plan has been deposited for the outpost so far.
The outpost was established in 2002, and about 71 housing units have been built, each of which has a demolition order. The area of the outpost is 61 dunams, all of which are on state land. A building plan for the outpost was previously frozen. Access roads to the outpost are on private Palestinian land.
Sde Boaz (Neve Daniel North):
The outpost was established in 2002, and to date, about 52 housing units have been built, each of which is subject to a demolition order. The area of the outpost is 47 dunams. No building plan has been deposited with the Higher Planning Council for the outpost. Peace Now filed a petition last May (HCJ 3210/22) against the Attorney General, the State Attorney, the head of the Investigations Division in the police and officials in the Ministry of the Interior, demanding that the court order them to open an investigation against the heads of the Gush Etzion Regional Council for their involvement in funding the illegal outpost Sde Boaz, for hundreds of thousands of shekels. The discussion at the Supreme Court will take place on March 1st, 2023.
The outpost was established in 2015, and as of today, there are approximately three to four buildings built in the outpost. In 2014, bulldozers arrived on behalf of the Samaria Regional Council and broke through from the north to the Bruchin outpost on the land of the village of Kufr ad-Dik, west of Salfit, and established an outpost on a hill in the area. The work included preparing about 250 dunams of land for agriculture and building two buildings. The buildings were constructed illegally, but the government refrained from enforcing the law and evacuating them. Afterward, the Samaria Regional Council applied for a construction permit for agricultural purposes. On August 28, 2018, after the Minister of Defense approved the plan, the subcommittee for licensing of the Higher Planning Council approved the construction of the buildings and farm. Thus, the new settlement of Shacharit was retroactively legalized. The settlement itself is on a land of approximately 30 dunams on state land.
Outpost legalization essentially represents the establishment of a new settlement. For years, Israeli governments have avoided establishing new settlements to avoid criticism from home and from friendly countries such as the United States and the European Union. In practice, about 150 settlements were established through deception and concealment.
Several main conditions are required for the outpost legalization process:
- Land ownership:
A prerequisite for approving plans is ownership of the land. In most settlements, ownership is public and managed by the government agency responsible for state land, which operates within the civilian administration. The responsible body must be the owner of the land and allocate it for planning. Therefore, in places where the agency has not yet gained control of the land, a process of “declaring state land” or other ownership arrangement will be required.
- Government decision to establish a settlement:
According to Israeli law and regulations, before establishing a settlement, an explicit decision by the government to establish the settlement is required. Therefore, in order to authorize outposts, a government decision to establish them is required. In many cases, the government “circumvents” the need to decide on the establishment of a new settlement by defining the holding as an existing settlement “neighborhood,” even if it is sometimes a settlement that is located kilometers away. In the current case, the Israeli government approved a government decision to empower the Political and Security Cabinet to make a decision regarding the whitewashing of the nine outposts. Therefore, it is unclear whether a government decision will be required on the subject.
- The planning stage:
Every stage of the planning process requires prior approval from the Minister of Defense – meaning that the planning process is under the full and direct control of the government of Israel. Approval of the plans is done by the Higher Planning Council in the Civil Administration and includes five main stages:
1. Discussion of the plan’s submission and approval for submission.
2. Publication of the plan for submission – after the required bureaucratic conditions for submission have been met, the plan is published in newspapers and the public is given 60 days to submit objections.
3. Hearing of objections (if submitted) in a meeting of the Higher Planning Council.
4. Discussion of granting validity and approval for granting validity.
5. Publication of granting of validity – after the required bureaucratic conditions have been met, the plan is published in newspapers for granting validity. After 15 days from the publication, the plan is in effect.
After the plan enters into effect, the settlement is considered “approved” – the houses in the settlement can receive building permits based on the valid plan, provided they comply with the plan’s conditions. Building permits are under the authority of the local authorities.