Israeli Settlers Offered New West Bank Homes if They Vacate Illegal Outpost

Defense Minister Ya'alon has promised Gush Etzion Regional Council to give legal status to an unauthorized outpost, approve 24 new homes and a new farm in exchange for the evacuation of outpost established last month.

Eyal Toueg

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon has promised the Gush Etzion Regional Council to give legal status to an unauthorized outpost, approve 24 new homes and a new farm in exchange for the evacuation of a different unauthorized outpost that was established in July.

The new outpost, Tekoa V, was set up near the settlement of Tekoa, together with the unauthorized outpost Ramat Hashlosha, after the kidnapping and murder of the three Israeli teens in the West Bank in June. Despite directives from the attorney general barring local governments from funding the establishment of such communities, the Gush Etzion Regional Council issued a press release announcing that it had “established two significant new outposts: Tekoa V, next to Tekoa, and Ramat Hashlosha, across from the village of Zureif, west of the settlement of Bat Ayin.”

The statement quoted council head Davidi Perl as saying, “The murderers wanted to hurt and weaken our settlements and our answer is to strengthen our enterprise by building rather than by uprooting.” Four families moved into old trailer homes in Tekoa V, eliciting demonstrations by local Palestinians demanding to get their land back.

On July 31 Ya’alon ordered the demolition of Tekoa V; an appeal to the courts against the order was rejected. The eviction deadline was extended because some of the residents were called up for reserve duty during Operation Protective Edge.

Yaalon’s decision was harshly criticized at a meeting of a Knesset subcommittee chaired by MK Moti Yogev (Habayit Hayehudi). He argued that while the homes of the three teenagers’ murderers and other Hamas militants had not yet been demolished, the state unfairly sought to evict settlers from a community established in honor of the teens. The terms of the agreement were negotiated between Ya’alon and the regional council.

In a response statement, Ya’alon’s office said there was no connection between the evacuation of illegal structures, the upholding of the law and any other activity related to the settlement enterprise in Judea and Samaria.

Tomer Appelbaum