Hurrah for the 'Hilltop Youth'

The government’s intention to make the crime of settlement outposts kosher is in direct and flagrant contradiction to its masquerade that it wants to advance the peace process.

Haaretz.
Haaretz Editorial
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Haaretz.
Haaretz Editorial

Four uncontrollable illegal outposts that had been marked for demolition − Givat Assaf, Ma’aleh Rehavam, Mitzpeh Lachish and Givat Haroeh − can now celebrate their new status. Three of them will win the right to be “laundered” − a term in Hebrew taken from the lexicon of organized crime − and one is under “examination.”

This inspiration invented by the state to head off the intervention of the High Court of Justice, after Peace Now demanded the destruction of these illegal outposts, is called a “demarcation order.” Such an order allows the Israel Defense Forces complete control on the complex declared as being inside the “line of demarcation” − including the decision to demolish structures − whether the land is privately owned or state-owned. This murky legal status is what gave the “hilltop youth” the pretext and power to take control of and build those sites.

The IDF’s foot-dragging was accompanied by the political leaders turning a blind eye. This is how one can understand the dissembling, even ridiculous, answer of the state to the High Court, which asked to know why the IDF had not demolished the structures on these settlements − even though the prime minister decided in 2011 to demolish them. In reality, it is impossible to understand why from 2003, the year in which the “demarcation line” was set, until today the state let the settlers do as they wished in those areas. It seems this period of time was needed to complete the alleged roundabout deal in which − at least in the case of Givat Assaf − a subsidiary of the Amana organization, which bears the Arabic name Al Watan ‏(Homeland‏) − bought a large part of the land of the settlement, and now can claim it is kosher. Amana and its subsidiary’s behavior is worth investigating separately, but it is impossible to agree that settlements established in sin should benefit from retroactive amnesty.

The government’s intention to make the crime kosher is in direct and flagrant contradiction to its masquerade that it wants to advance the peace process. This is a kick in the face to the Arab nations, which recently proposed reviving the Arab initiative and agreeing to territorial swaps, as well as a slap in the face to U.S. President Barack Obama’s attempts to renew the negotiations. The hilltop youth can now celebrate their victory. They, with government support, are drawing the borders of Israel.

Illegal outposts about half an hour from Jerusalem.Credit: Michal Fattal

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