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Israel committee urges speedier ‘legalisation’ of dozens of settlement outposts

A construction crane installs new mobile homes on Palestinian land near Kiryat Arba settlement in Hebron, West Bank on 5 March 2018 [Wisam Hashlamoun/Apaimages]
A construction crane installs new mobile homes on Palestinian land near Kiryat Arba settlement in Hebron, West Bank on 5 March 2018 [Wisam Hashlamoun/Apaimages]

An Israeli parliamentary committee has urged the government to accelerate the so-called “legalisation” of settlement outposts in the occupied West Bank, reported the Jerusalem Post.

Meeting on Monday, the Knesset Internal Affairs Committee accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of having “delayed work on the authorisation of 70 West Bank settler outposts for over a year”, and “demanded that he speed up the process”.

The committee called on the government to both “create a list of outposts it plans to authorise as new neighbourhood of existing settlements”, as well as come up with “a diplomatic arrangement in the next few months” that would allow the authorisation of 20 “problematic” outposts.

According to the paper, the Defence Ministry’s secretary of settlement affairs, Kobi Eliraz, described 20 outposts as requiring a “government decision” for action to be taken – a diplomatic decision that has to be “co-ordinated overseas”, he added.

Read: Israel seeks 1,000 new settlement units in East Jerusalem

The Jerusalem Post added that “his words hinted that the best way to do so was to authorise them as new settlements and that such a step would need US approval.”

The report noted that in May 2017, “the Security Cabinet allocated NIS 10 million [$2.8 million] for the creation of a special team headed by veteran settler leader Pinhas Wallerstein to plan for the legalisation of the 70 outposts.”

#LandGrab

However, the article continued, “the Prime Minister’s Office submitted a request for half of the funds to hire staff member only last week – some 14 months later – making it impossible for the team to operate.”

Yochai Damri, a settler leader in the south of the occupied West Bank, told the Knesset committee that “politicians should take advantage of the combination of a right-wing government and a favourable diplomatic climate”.

Read: Israel plan to expand illegal settlement in Bethlehem

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