Israel’s Retroactive Legalization Leading to Boom in ‘Pirate’ Settler Outposts in West Bank

'Outpost Entrepreneur' Goes From Hill to Hill, Cutting Into Palestinian Territory

Nothing happens quickly in the occupied West Bank. Israel has an ever-growing network of settlements across the occupied territory, and a far-right coalition government heavily dependent on settlers’ political support, and full of political figures calling for settlement expansions to spite the Palestinians.

So when self-proclaimed “outpost entrepreneur” Shimon Riklin brings a few ramshackle trailers into the West Bank and occupies some hilltop, officials have little reason to care, and even if the Palestinians complain, there is little incentive to do anything about it.

This has led to the founding of a separate network of around 100 “pirate outposts” founded by settlers in direct violation of Israeli law, and virtually always on land they don’t have any pretense of owning. They have one thing on their side, and that’s time.

Hyping the religious, racial, and political narrative of the settlement project, these illegal outposts pretty quickly attract new residents, and by the time they get big enough for anyone to have any interest in doing anything about them, they’re also big enough that the far-right government feels virtually obliged to retroactively legalize them.

It is rare indeed for illegal outposts to be evacuated, given how many there are, and even when they do, the government tends to offer massive reparations for those moved from the land they didn’t own in the first place. This has incentivized entrepreneurs like Riklin to go from hilltop to hilltop, carving more and more territory out of a future Palestinian state that the current government opposes in the first place.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.