Israel’s Defense Minister Is Particularly Good at Taking Over Land

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Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon has taken a twisting path to an “appropriate Zionist response” to the murder of Jews by Palestinians. He made a promise to the Gush Etzion Regional Council, which established the pseudo-outpost Tekoa V.

Ya'alon promised that in exchange for evacuating the place, the council would receive a suitable reward. He promised to approve the establishment of a farm, legalize the illegal settlement of Tekoa IV and approve construction of 24 apartments in the area.

Tekoa V, which the Gush Etztion Regional Council launched in response to the murder of the three teens two months ago, was an illegal act. According to the attorney general, the regional council is prohibited from financing this type of activity; Tekoa V was established on private Palestinian land, contrary to government policy that bars the establishment of new outposts.

Ya’alon, as a minster who upholds the law and carries out the policies to which he is a partner, ordered the outpost demolished about three weeks ago. But it seems that even the defense minister doesn’t take his own actions and policies seriously.

This is how Ya’alon, a senior cabinet minister, has turned into a land dealer or real estate broker finding loopholes that will legitimize illegal outposts. He hands out construction permits as if the burden of international pressure due to the outposts had already been lifted. He mocks the decisions of the High Court of Justice, which rejected the petition by Tekoa V settlers and makes clear to ostensible lawbreakers that crime does pay.

The wildcat outposts, the loopholes, the “thickening of the settlements” and other tricks for taking over more land drive Jewish nails into the Palestinian territories with the goal of halting any chance of a diplomatic compromise. At the same time, they unravel Israel’s ties with the West and sabotage the country’s image.

The settlements, the pride of messianic Zionism, hurt businesses in Israel proper seeking to export to Europe, which is already imposing economic sanctions and boycotting products from the settlements. The Netanyahu government’s backing of lawbreakers makes the government not only a lawbreaker but one willing to sacrifice both its good name and Israel’s economic prosperity for a messianic stamp of approval.