The Israeli government has submitted plans to the high court today announcing that it will legalize four West Bank settlement outposts which were illegally built on lands owned by Palestinians. The outposts had all been ordered demolished after a lengthy legal battle.
The four outposts were initially ordered demolished by the Israeli military’s central command in 2003, and after years of inaction Peace Now sued the government in 2007 to implement the order. In February 2011, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that the demolitions would go forward, but once again new actually did anything about it.
Peace Now Director Yariv Oppenheimer condemned the announcement, saying it was a “slap in the face” to ongoing US efforts to start peace talks, and showed that the government was continuing to put the interests of settlers ahead of the interests of the rest of the nation. Palestinian officials also expressed concerns about the report, saying that the retroactive legalization was destroying the peace process.
Though under international law all of the settlements are illegal, Israel has sought to cloak the process in its own internal laws by insisting that those built contrary to the process would be demolished. In the end, however, such pledges are regularly overturned, and even when demolitions do happen they are used as an excuse for new expansions to “make it up” to the settlers.
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