Outposts to Get Same Compensation as Legal Settlements

Outposts in the Gush Katif settlement bloc were no different from regular settlements, and therefore, residents of such outposts should not be discriminated against with regard to compensation, the inquiry committee that investigated the treatment of those evacuated from the Gaza Strip ruled.

The panel reached this decision in light of the state's encouragement of and tacit support for the outposts' establishment.

The committee's decision, which overturns a ruling by the attorney general, will have implications for other legal cases, including a petition demanding the demolition of 12 homes in the Hayovel outpost near the West Bank settlement of Eli. The residents argued in their response that several ministries assisted in building the outpost, so it should be legalized, not demolished.

Gush Katif contained six outposts set up with no master plan and no formal permission: Dahaniyeh (for Bedouin collaborators ), Tel Katifa, Kerem Atzmona, Kfar Yam, Shirat Hayam and Shalev. The Sasson report on illegal outposts did not discuss these communities, since they were already slated for evacuation at the time.

In 2006, then-attorney general Menachem Mazuz ruled that residents of the outposts would receive only partial compensation. He told the committee this was meant to send the message that there is a difference between legal and illegal.

"We thought that writing compensation for people who built illegally into the law would be problematic, and would have consequences for addressing illegal construction in everyday life," Mazuz said.

But the committee rejected this argument. "If the state itself, through one of its arms, promotes settlement in unrecognized communities, it cannot then complain about the illegality of settlement in those areas," it wrote. "These communities were built with constant assistance from various government agencies. So long as the state encouraged [people] to dwell there in one fashion or another, it must also give them equal compensation once it evacuates them."

Attorney Michael Sfard, who represents the Peace Now and Yesh Din organizations in their petitions demanding the demolition of illegal outposts, said the committee's ruling that the state spoke in two voices was unfounded, misleading and dangerous to the rule of law. He said that as long as the only agencies with the power to authorize the establishment of a new community did not do so, there was no doublespeak at all.