Representatives from Israel’s state prosecutor’s office have suggested that the government may choose to retroactively legalize some of the illegal outposts and expansions being constructed by settler groups in the West Bank.
The move would represent a major policy change for the Netanyahu government, which has long made promises of demolishing the illegal outposts one of the few concessions it would be willing to make amid international pressure to halt its settlement activity.
The US had previously demanded a halt to all settlement activity, but eventually backed off all its demands in return for a brief pause in Israel’s issuance of new construction approvals in the West Bank. Such a pause seems virtually meaningless if Israel is just going to have illegal settlement construction activity continue and declare it legal after construction is complete. Netanyahu aides have denied that even the pause has been agreed to.
Israel’s Peace Now group, which opposes settlement expansion, slammed the possibility and said it was the result of political pressure from far right members of the ruling coalition. They have urged Israel’s attorney general to order the prosecutors to act according to the law and disregard political pressure. A top settler leader praised the move, however, insisting that the construction of new settlements on Palestinian lands is inherently a political and not legal issue.