Israeli Cabinet Agrees to Advance Relocation of Slain Rabbi's West Bank Outpost

The decision will evacuate the existing residents and establish a new outpost

File photo: Israeli outpost Havat Gilad in the West Bank, 2014.
\ Ilan Assayag

The cabinet unanimously approved Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman's proposal Sunday to establish a new settlement for the residents of the West Bank outpost of Havat Gilad, and to evacuate the existing settlement. 

The proposal authorizes Lieberman to order the examination of relocating the outpost, but its practical ramifications are unclear as the defense minister was already authorized to do so.

Cabinet ministers announced they would advance the legalizations of Havat Giad following the murder of Rabbi Raziel Shevach last month. Shevach was shot dead while driving home on Route 60, the West Bank’s main highway.

"A few minutes ago, I spoke with Yael, the widow of Rabbi Raziel Shevach," said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Sunday's cabinet meeting in the Knesset. "I told her that the entire nation and all members of cabinet embrace her and the children in their time of grief."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a cabinet meeting in the Knesset on February 4, 2018.
Emil salman

"The government will provide the status of Havat Gilad in order to facilitate orderly life there. For the murderers – we will exact justice. To those who sanctify death, we will sanctify life," Netanyahu said at the meeting.

"We are not bent on war, but we will do whatever is necessary to defend ourselves," said Netanyahu.

Cabinet Secretary Tzachi Braverman, speaking at Sunday’s cabinet meeting, added that “the decision regarding Havat Gilad is only a technical decision that [is meant to] legalize an existing settlement and does not call for the establishment of a new settlement.”
“There is no intention,” Braverman went on to add, “to expand and to annex privately-owned Palestinian lands but only to legalize the existing settlement after the murder [of Rabbi Shevach] and to connect it to water and electricity as well as make it accessible for humanitarian reasons.”

In response to the cabinet's decision, Peace Now, an anti-occupation group,  said: "Legalizing Havat Gilad is a new height of groveling before settlers." The organization added, "By legalizing Havat Gilad, an isolated outpost deep within the West Bank, the government is harming the chance for two states and rewarding land-stealing felons."

Likud minister Ze'ev Elkin said on Twitter "Let it be known to anyone who tries to harm the settlements and settlers - we will never give up and never surender to murderers."

Chairperson of Hatnuah Tzipi Livni said "The response to terror must be a firm military arm and outlining of a border, not the submission to a minority leading us to annexation and an Arab state."