Cabinet Vows to Raze Illegal Outposts Built on Palestinian Land by Year's End

Government responds to Peace Now petition demanding order be put into effect demarcating borders of six West Bank outposts.

The government will demolish all West Bank outposts built illegally on private Palestinian land by the end of 2011, Cabinet Secretary Zvi Hauser announced yesterday.

The announcement was made in response to a petition filed by Peace Now to the High Court of Justice, demanding the government put into effect an already issued order demarcating borders of six West Bank outposts - Ramat Gilad, Mitzpeh Yitzhar, Givat Haroeh, Givat Asaf, Ma'aleh Rehavam and Mitzpeh Lachish.

Right-wing demonstrators blocking the entrance to Jerusalem last week to protest the removal of illegal structures from the Havat Gilad outpost in the West Bank.
Moti Milrod

Hauser submitted the announcement to the High Court following the cabinet's decision earlier this month to dismantle all illegal outposts built on private Palestinian land, with the exception of the Eli-area home occupied by the widow of slain IDF officer Eliraz Peretz, but had not yet set a timetable for that matter.

At the same time, however, the government will begin legalizing illegal outposts built on state land.

According to Hauser's statement, all of the homes in Givat Asaf, and some of the homes in Givat Haroeh and Ramat Gilad will be razed. Mitzpeh Yitzhar is built on survey land, which means its official owners have not yet been determined.

Hauser said that further debate would be held regarding outposts built on non-private land, but current enforcement would be geared against the invasion of private land.

This is highest-level statement regarding the government's policy on outposts to date.

In 10 days, the state is due to outline its position in response to the petition submitted by the group Yesh Din, demanding the implementation of demolition orders issued for Jabel Artis and the outpost of Amona near Beit El. In mid-April the High Court is scheduled to hear a petition to demolish Amona.

So far no Israeli government has evacuated entire outposts in the West Bank.

The settlers expressed concern yesterday over Hauser's announcement. The Yesha settlers' leaders council commented that the state's position reflects an inexplicable passion for demolition.

"The decision is extremely grave. All this nitpicking over enforcing the law on Jews when there's illegal construction going on by Arabs is shameful," said Samaria settlers' committee head Benny Katzover.

Peace Now Secretary General Yariv Oppenheimer said "despite the important development, the cabinet intends to legalize most of the illegal construction on state land retroactively."

He said it was doubtful the state would implement the evacuations as "in nine months it can find excuses to evade it."