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Israeli settlers assemble new outpost on Palestinian land in Ramallah

March 14, 2017 10:04 P.M. (Updated: March 15, 2017 12:26 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Israeli settlers have started to assemble a new settlement outpost on Palestinian land in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah, a local activist told Ma’an on Tuesday.

Activist Kathem Hajj Muhammad said that Israeli settlers have set up caravans in the area of al-Tabbun in al-Mughayyir, Abu Falah, and Kafr Malek villages.

He added that the settlers had placed barbed wire around the caravans in the new outpost, while opening a road in order to facilitate reaching the outpost from a nearby settler bypass road, Muhammad said.

The new outpost is the second reported since the start of the year, with Israeli settlers setting up mobile homes on land belonging to the village of Azmut in the northern West Bank district of Nablus at the start of the year. The new outpost is located just a few hundred meters away from the illegal Elon Moreh settlement.

Meanwhile, the controversial Regularization law which passed last month could grant official Israeli governmental recognition to more than a dozen illegal settlement outposts in the West Bank established on private Palestinian lands.

The law states that any settlements built in the West Bank “in good faith” -- without knowledge that the land upon which it was built was privately owned by Palestinians -- could be officially recognized by Israel pending minimal proof of governmental support in its establishment and some form of compensation to the Palestinian landowners.

As it stands, the law would affect the status of 16 outposts, although Israeli media reports indicated that more could be included in the future.

A week following the passage of the law, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that the Israeli government had planned to legalize seven structures built in the Israeli outpost of Adi Ad, including roads built to connect the settlers to the rest of Israel, all of which have been constructed on private Palestinian lands in Ramallah.

All 196 government-authorized Israeli settlements scattered across Palestinian territory are considered illegal under international law. However, unauthorized Israeli outposts are also considered illegal under Israeli domestic law, despite reports of the Israeli government allegedly providing financial assistance to their construction.

Critics of the bill have also pointed out that it provides a green light for extremist Israelis to establish settler outposts on occupied Palestinian land, which often act as corridors to connect larger Israeli settlements to one another. Israeli rights group B’tselem has said the behavior of Israeli settlers residing on Palestinian land lines up with the Israeli government’s political goals in the West Bank.

A report released in December by the group highlighted the “key role” of Israeli settlers in further isolating Palestinians from their lands, either through the establishment of outposts officially unrecognized by the Israeli government, or through the regular use of violence or threats of violence against Palestinians.

The movement of Israeli settlers taking over Palestinian land, and further displacing the local Palestinian population has been a "stable" Israeli policy since the takeover of the West Bank and Jerusalem in 1967, B'Tselem said, underscoring that all "Israeli legislative, legal, planning, funding, and defense bodies" have played an active role in the dispossession of Palestinians from their lands.

B’Tselem also argued that under the guise of a "temporary military occupation," Israel has been "using the land as its own: robbing land, exploiting the area’s natural resources for its own benefit and establishing permanent settlements," estimating that Israel had dispossessed Palestinians from some 200,000 hectares (494,211 acres) of lands in the occupied Palestinian territory over the years.
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