Israel's Defense Minister Aims to Legalize Outpost Near Where Settler Killed Last Week

Avigdor Lieberman's resolution essentially awards him authority he already has, but it's seen as a declaration of the government's intent to move forward on legalizing Havat Gilad

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman in the West Bank, October 2017.
Olivier Fitoussi

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman has asked the cabinet to take steps to legalize the Havat Gilad outpost as a response to the killing last week of one of its residents, Rabbi Raziel Shevach.

According to Liebermans resolution submitted to the cabinet Sunday, the government should advance the construction of a new settlement on land owned by Israel in the Samaria region in the West Bank. The community will operate under the auspices of the Samaria Regional Council, will get its own independent community number, and will absorb residents now living on private land in the region.

The proposal gives Lieberman the authority to have government agencies work to establish the community, to confirm a location for it, to examine everything related to its environs, infrastructure and planning, and to advance its building plans.

The resolution essentially gives Lieberman authority that he already has, but its seen as a declaration of the governments intent to move forward on legalizing the outpost.

A source in the Defense Ministry said a government resolution was needed to legalize the outpost.

You cant establish a community without a resolution by the decision-makers, the source said. The proposal will go to all the relevant ministers, there will be staff work, and in the end one comprehensive resolution will be submitted for government approval.

The funeral of Rabbi Raziel Shevach at Havat Gilad in the West Bank, January 2018.
Olivier Fitoussi

When the source was asked why a similar resolution wasnt passed on building Amihai – the new community for the people evacuated from the Amona outpost – he answered, There were three government resolutions on Amihai. Each spoke of an alternative for a permanent community, while the third explicitly referred to the establishment of a new community.

Asked why there was no need for such a resolution before taking steps to legalize other outposts, such as Haresha, the source said the cases were different legally.

The decisions on establishing Amihai included a step like a budget transfer, while Liebermans new proposal merely authorizes the defense minister to order an examination of the feasibility of legalization, something he can already do.

Another security source told Haaretz that Israels Civil Administration in the West Bank is also not sure about the implications of such a decision and suggested asking the attorney general.

Still, to be legalized, Havat Gilad will need an urban building plan, the planning and construction of infrastructure, retroactive building permits and various other bureaucratic and planning actions.