Cabinet Fails to Debate Legalization of Havat Gilad

Defense minister submitted resolution on the outpost, but military officials say it can’t be made legal because it’s mainly on Palestinian land

A general view of the Havat Gilad settlement outpost, West Bank January 10, 2018
\ RONEN ZVULUN/REUTERS

The cabinet on Sunday did not discuss a proposal to legalize the Havat Gilad outpost in the northern West Bank, despite remarks by several ministers supporting such a move. Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman last week submitted a proposal to the cabinet that would give him “the authority to instruct professionals to examine” regularizing the outpost, an authority he already has.

Last week, Lieberman issued a statement saying he had submitted a resolution “to make the outpost a regular community.” The resolution called for the government to promote the establishment of a new community on Israeli-owned land in Samaria, that will be part of the Samaria Regional Council with the status of an independent community and will absorb residents currently living on privately owned land in the area.

The resolution authorizes Lieberman to instruct government agencies to undertake work to establish the community, confirm its location, review zoning, infrastructure and planning and to advance construction plans.

“The settlement enterprise is and always was a central component in the overall security concept of the Zionist movement, ever since the tower and stockade era. Today, too, Jewish settlement makes a tremendous contribution to defending the borders of the state and the homeland. I hope all the relevant bodies will take immediate steps to advance the move.”

It isn’t clear what new authority the cabinet resolution would give Lieberman. Nevertheless, the cabinet did not debating the proposal, even though both Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked announced they would advance the legalization of Havat Gilad, one of whose residents, Rabbi Raziel Shevach, was murdered in a terror attack this month.

During his visit to India last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the legalization of the outpost “was being examined,” adding, “We have taken measures concerning water and electricity.”

Defense officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, have said that Havat Gilad cannot be made legal in its current location. One military source said a “relatively limited” part of the land on which Havat Gilad was built was purchased by Jews, but most of its buildings are on private Palestinian land. Legalization will not be possible, sources said, even if the Expropriation Law passes the review of the High Court of Justice.