West Bank Outpost Cannot Be Authorized Because It's Mostly Built on Private Palestinian Land, Say Security Sources

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman's move to legalize settlement whose resident was murdered in terror attack last week likely to prove unsuccessful on legal grounds

A sign saying "Welcome to Havat Gilad," the illegal outpost in the West Bank.
Ilan Assayag

Despite the calls of many cabinet minsters last week to retroactively authorize the West Bank outpost of Havat Gilad, following the terror attack that killed one of its residents, security sources say it cannot be legalized because it is mostly constructed on private Palestinian land.

Rabbi Raziel Shevach was murdered on January 9 in a drive-by shooting attack near Havat Gilad, west of Nablus. Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman quickly brought a proposal to the cabinet aimed at taking the necessary steps to legalize the outpost. He also asked government agencies to examine the matter and proposed that the establishment of a new settlement, on land under Israeli ownership, will be promoted in the Shomron [Samaria] area. This new community will be part of the Shomron Regional Council, will have the status of an independent community and will absorb residents now living on private land in the area.

The outpost was established in 2002 when Moshe Zar, a well-known settler leader and activist, purchased some land in the area. The outpost has expanded in the intervening years and is now home to some 40 families. According to defense sources, the plot that was purchased and registered as private, Jewish-owned land is only a tiny fraction of the settlements current area. Moreover, according to state records and Palestinians living in the area, the rest of the land on which the settlement lies is private Palestinian land.

Given this information, Liebermans intention of moving people onto private land there raises many questions.

The problems for those wishing to authorize the outpost dont end there. All of the outposts structures, including on the Jewish-owned plot, are illegal, since there is no construction plan for the area and no building permits were ever issued. The Civil Administration – the body that implements Israeli policy in the occupied territories – has previously ordered these structures be demolished.

However, while the structures on the Jewish-owned plot may be authorized, there is no mechanism for doing so with the rest. In order to authorize the outpost, it will be necessary to completely uproot and relocate it.

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman in Jerusalem, December 31, 2017
Hadas Parush

The recently passed law allowing Israel to expropriate Palestinian land in some instances will not allow authorization of this outpost (assuming the High Court of Justice doesnt strike the law down first). Thats because the laws third clause requires that settling in a location was done in good faith on land requiring authorization, or that it was done with state acquiescence during the building stage – conditions that do not apply in this case