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Israel to retroactively legalize settlement outpost in response to killing of settler

Feb. 4, 2018 5:06 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 5, 2018 3:36 P.M.)
The Israeli West Bank settlement of Efrat on September 1, 2014 (AFP Photo/Ahmad Gharabli)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- The Israeli government unanimously approved plans to legalize an illegal Israeli settlement outpost near the northern occupied West Bank city of Nablus in response to the killing of one of its settlers last month.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during an Israeli cabinet meeting that the government will legalize the Havat Gilad outpost in order to “allow the continuation of a normal life there.”

According to Israeli news website Ynet
, the proposal passed an executive vote, the first stage in the process to legalize the outpost, which was built in contravention of international law.

“The executive decision is mostly declarative in nature, announcing the government's intention to legalize the outpost, but without detailing the manner in which it will be done.” Ynet said.

Ynet added that during the cabinet meeting in which the announcement was made, Netanyahu reportedly said that the decision was “exacting justice” and that it was being made in order “to strengthen the settlement enterprise."

An Israeli settler from the Havat Gilad outpost was killed in a shooting attack while driving near the settlement last month.

Since his death, Israeli forces have embarked on a manhunt in search for the alleged suspect, and have killed two Palestinians and injured several others in the process.

Settlement Watchdog Peace Now released a statement in response to the decision saying that “it would be a grave mistake to officially recognize Havat Gilad, as it would further undermine the possibility of reaching a two-state agreement.”

“Israel would have to evacuate the outpost in any foreseeable two-state solution scenario, which, together with the other settlements and outposts it will have to evacuate, would require tremendous political will on Israel’s part.”

The group noted that, “in the event that such a move for Havat Gilad is approved, the Government of Israel will be crossing another red line by legitimating land theft on a much larger scale than in previous cases.”

“The legalization of the outpost would signal that the government does not intend to advance a final peace agreement, but rather only to extend Israel’s hold on the West Bank and to prevent the possibility of establishing a Palestinian state alongside an Israel with secure, internationally recognized borders,” the group said.

Between 500,000 and 600,000 Israelis live in Jewish-only settlements across occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank in violation of international law.

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