Peace Now: PM's Panel to Legalize West Bank Outposts Encourages 'Price Tag' Attacks

Lauding planned government task force to approve construction on private Palestinian land, Likud MK says Israel must advance Jewish settlement out of a recognition that the West Bank 'belongs to us.'

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's planned force geared at legalizing West Bank outposts is a "boost in the arm" to so-called "price tag" attacks, left-leaning NGO Peace Now said on Tuesday.

Earlier Tuesday, the premier announced the formation of a panel that would mull the ways in which West Bank outposts built on private Palestinian land could be retroactively approved, saying the "committee will form recommendations regarding issues such as those raised in the various appeals to the High Court of Justice."

Benjamin Netanyahu - Emil Salman - 10.9.2011
Emil Salman

Speaking in response to Netanyahu's statement, Peace Now head Yariv Oppenheimer said that the forming of a panel to legalize West Bank outposts represented "a boost in the arm to the [initiators of the] 'price tag' attacks."

"The settlers' terror and intimidation are working, and instead of evacuating illegal structures built on stolen land, Netanyahu is demonstrating distrust of the State Prosecutor's Office, seeking to form a legal panel that would serve only the settlers," Oppenheimer said.

"Peace Now will continue to struggle against government attempts to assist violations against the low and protect construction criminals in the [Palestinian] territories," he added.

Referring to the reported plan to legalize West Bank outposts, Meretz ML Zehava Gal-On said earlier Tuesday that Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein "must make it clear to Netanyahu that the robbery and theft of private lands cannot be legalize since it constitutes a criminal offence."

"Netanyahu's entire move is meant to further establish Israeli authority over the [Palestinian] territories and deepen the occupation," Gal-On said.

Culture Minister Limor Livnat, one of those who pushed for the task force, told Arutz Sheva radio on Monday that the goal was to examine the issue "without fear of what leftist groups will say. As the government, we need to govern."

Also commenting on the PM's announcement on Tuesday, Likud MK Tzipi Hotovely said she "welcomed the decision," adding that the "prime minister has understood that moral values and those of the [Likud] movement do not permit the uprooting the people from their homes."

"It is important that we continue the advancement of Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria out of a recognition that it belongs to us," Hotovely said, adding that a 2005 report criticizing West Bank settlement expansion was "politically biased and the time has come to change it."