The Israeli Peace Now movement has revealed plans by the Israeli authorities to start legalising four settlement outposts built on private land in the occupied West Bank. According to Peace Now, the Israeli government has submitted a formal response to the organisation's petition to the Supreme Court against six illegal outposts in the West Bank. "The government has declared its intention to legalise four outposts," said the movement.
Peace Now feels betrayed by the previous government, it said. "The former government had promised to remove the illegal construction built on private land, but had not declared its intention to legalise the outposts."
The Israeli organisation criticised this step, which comes in the middle of US efforts to bring the Palestinians and the Israelis back to the negotiation table. "The intention to legalise outposts as new settlements is no less than a slap in the face of Secretary Kerry's new process," said Peace Now. "It is blatant reassurance to settler interests and, through this, an indication that the new Government is not committed to peace and to the two-state solution."
The government's move, added the peace movement, encourages settlers in their illegality safe in the knowledge that their outposts will be "legalised" retrospectively. "They can thus continue to establish facts on the ground, which harms the chances for peace."
The outposts to be turned into "legalised" settlements are Ma'ale Rehavam to the east of Bethlehem; Haroeh north of Ramallah; Givat Assaf to the east of Ramallah; and Mitzpe Lachish south west of Hebron.