In response to a High Court petition made by a human rights group over illegal construction near the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Netafim, the Israeli Defense Ministry has taken the rare step of retroactively legalizing the structures.
According to the petition, not only were the 14 structures in question built without permits, they were built partially on Palestinian land. The Netanyahu government had previously promised to dismantle illegal outposts in the West Bank.
Instead, the government now says it wants to “promote planning and construction” in the settlement. Settlers conceded that they did not have permits, but insisted that they had applied for them in 2000. They praised the retroactive legalization.
Though Israel has already flouted the terms of its own unilateral settlement freeze on multiple occasions, today’s move was a first in that the government had previously sought to differentiate between government approved construction and illegal building, and now seems to be fine even with that. The freeze has actually led the Israeli government to be more aggressive than it was before in settlement construction.