Monday, December 18, 2017

US Condemns Israel‘s Legalization of Four Outposts


By Tadas Blinda - May 21, 2013
TAGS:
Section: [Main News] [Life under Occupation]
Tags: [Apartheid] [forced transfer] [settlements] [West Bank]

An Israeli outpost near Ramallah. Photo by Lazar Simeonov.

 

Four illegal settler outposts in the occupied Palestinian territories are to be legalized by the Israeli Civil Administration, the Israeli anti-settlement organization Peace Now reported on Thursday 16 May 2013.
 
The news appeared just days before US Secretary of State John Kerry is coming for separate meetings with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, in an attempt to restore peace talks between the two parties.
 
John Kerry personally called Israeli ambassador to the US Michael Oren to demand explanation and voice his objection after he discovering Israel's decision to legalize the four outposts. John Kerry, the newly appointed US Secretary of State, requested the Israeli government to reconsider its decision or postpone its legalization of the outposts. This unusual move by a senior US official stresses US frustration over an Israeli decision that harms efforts to restore peace talks. 
 
“The administration had raised the issue at a high level with the Israeli government’s representatives in Washington,“a US State Department spokeswoman told Haaretz.
 
Decision to legalize the outposts comes as a response to Peace Now’s petition to the Supreme Court against six illegal outposts built on private Palestinian land. All four of the soon to be legalized outposts are on the petition's list. Demolition orders against unauthorized outposts were issued back in 2004 and were followed by requests for immediate implementation by Peace Now. However, the demolitions have yet to be carried out by Israeli authorities. 
 
The outposts to be legalized are Ma’ale Rehavam, located east of Bethlehem, Haroeh on the north of Ramallah, Givat Assaf on the east of Ramallah and Mitzpe Lachish on the south west of Hebron. 
 
All outposts are illegal according to Israeli law but settlements are officially recognized by the government. Most of the current official settlements started as illegal outposts. Both settlements and outposts in the occupied territories are illegal under international law.  
 
Peace Now states in their report that the intention to legalize outposts as new settlements is no less than a slap in the face of Secretary Kerry's new process and constitutes blatant reassurance to settler interests. The new Israeli government is indicating it is not committed to peace and to a two-state solution. The decision to retroactively legalize settler landtheft leaves the path clear for more illegal settler activities, which continue to establish strategic facts on the ground and harm the chances for peace.
 
"Israel continues to put obstacles and to sabotage US efforts to resume negotiation," Reuters News Agency quoted Nabil Abu Rdainah, a spokesman of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, as having said on Thursday. "Our position is clear and that is all settlement is illegal and must be stopped.”  
 
Israel’s approval of the four outposts directly follows its decision to approve nearly 300 new housing units in the Beit El settlement in Ramallah. Approval for new houses contradicts Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent decision to freeze tenders for new construction in settlements (reported by the Jerusalem post and Israeli Army Radio), and thus further complicates any future negotiations initiated by John Kerry. 
 
Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians have been suspended since 2010, due to the constant expansion of Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. Palestinians refuse to return to the negotiating table unless all settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem stops. 
 
There are more than 120 settlements and over 100 outposts in the occupied Palestinian territories with the number of settlers exceeding 500,000 in the West Bank and East Jerusalem—the long hailed capital of any acceptable Palestinian state. Around 60 percent of the settlers are scattered throughout illegal settlements in the West Bank. More than 40 percent of the West Bank territory is comprised of settlements, including the vast network of bypass roads accessible only to settlers as well as barriers heavily restricting Palestinian movement.
 
Countless officials and organizations, such as Peace Now, assert that the two-state solution, which includes independent Palestinian state along the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital, is no longer a realistic option. 
 

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