Two Days to Election, Netanyahu Government Green Lights Legalizing Jordan Valley Outpost

Last week, the attorney general published legal opinion opposing the move. He acceded after Netanyahu said final approval will be made by next government

Netanyahu at the cabinet meeting at the illegal outpost of Mevo'ot Yericho in the Jordan Valley, September 15, 2019
Marc Israel Sellem

The Israeli government on Sunday approved its proposal to legalize an outpost in the Jordan Valley two days before the election after the attorney general agreed to rescind his opposition. The final approval for legalizing the outpost, however, will be made by the next government.

Haaretz Weekly Ep. 40Haaretz

"The government will decide on kick starting the process of establishing the settlement of Mevo'ot Yeriho in the Jordan Valley," said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the cabinet meeting, which was held in the illegal outpost.

"The final approval will of course be given with the formation of the new government," he said.

During the meeting, Netanyahu said that he had been informed during the past 24 hours that there is high probability that the Trump administration's Middle East peace plan would be released immediately after Tuesday's election, and therefore the decision to approve the establishment of the outpost is significant.

In response, Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit, who originally opposed the decision, said he had altered his opinion after being made privy to this "new information."

However, Netanyahu already announced that Trump's peace plan is expected to be released several days after the election during a press conference in which he said he intends to annex the Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea after the election.      

Last week, Netanyahu also announced he intends to approve Mevo'ot Yeriho's legalization. He was later informed by Mendelblit this could not be done with a transitional government.

In his official legal opinion, published Thursday, Mendelblit said there is no urgency to approve the outpost two days before the election, and therefore a transitional government does not have the authority to make such a decision.

Mendelblit added that the timing of the decision "raises concerns that the proposal stems from, or at least appears to stem from, considerations of the upcoming election." Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday that he will raise the issue in the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday.

Mevo'ot Yeriho was established in 1999 as an agricultural plot and since then has grown to an outpost that houses 30 families, most of which live in portable caravans. The Jordan Valley Regional Council views Mevo'ot Yeriho as a settlement in their jurisdiction, despite the lack of an official decision to establish a settlement at that location.

Netanyahu's announcement last week followed his pledge to extend Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea if elected. The announcement was widely condemned internationally.