Israeli Taxpayers Bear Financial Burden of Evicting Illegal West Bank Outposts, and Sometimes, Making Them Legal

The recent evictions of Amona and Netiv Ha’avot are a reminder of how the Israeli government relies on taxpayer money to bail out illegal outposts – and generously compensate evicted settlers

Residents of the West Bank outpost Netiv Ha’avot, which was partially evicted and bulldozed in June, long maintained confidence that the Israeli government would come around and retroactively legalize their illegally-built homes. And they had good reason to do so.

Amid scuffles between right-wing activists and Israeli police that left six officers injured, 15 families were evicted from Netiv Ha’avot on June 12. The eviction followed a High Court of Justice ruling that the homes in question were wholly or partially built on private Palestinian land. Now that they are housed in temporary structures nearby, paid for at the expense of Israeli taxpayers, the 15 families will also be directly and generously compensated with public money.

The Israeli government routinely uses a series of legal gymnastics to help establish or turn a blind eye to the founding of illegal outposts in the West Bank. It’s easier to retroactively legalize outposts built on territory classified as Israeli state land, but outposts built on private Palestinian land can also be legalized.

“Clearly it’s a political matter,” said Brian Reeves, director of external relations for Peace Now, which led the legal fight against Netiv Ha’avot. “Even people on the right [of the political spectrum] who might not be the most pro-outpost settler, they don’t want to suffer the political backlash of having to dismantle these [outposts] and having it caught on camera. So there’s a huge incentive in favor of the settlers to continue to violate Israeli law, not to mention to trample on Palestinian property rights.” 

Robert Exley contributed to this report.