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Religious Zionist Party filed bill to authorize West Bank settler outposts

CM 18/04/2021

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The Religious Zionist Party filed a Knesset bill to authorize West Bank settler outposts.
A similar bill was approved 60 to 40 in a preliminary reading in December prior to the Knesset’s dispersal.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has spoken of authorizing the outposts, but he was not present for the vote, neither was Alternate Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benny Gantz.
It’s presumed that there are enough votes in the new plenum to pass such a bill, but it’s unclear if the 24th Knesset will be in power long enough to allow for the legislative process necessary for its approval.
The private members’ bill filed by RZP MK Orit Struck would give de facto authorization for close to 70 outposts and would set a two-year timetable for their legalization.
Should the bill be authorized, it would grant residents of the  outposts the same rights as those living in legal settlements to plan, build and receive utility services. The bill provides for a two-year time frame during which residents will gain these rights and while the legislation is completed for the outpost legalizations.
Some of the outposts – referred to by the Israeli Right as young communities – would be authorized as new neighborhoods of existing settlements and others be approved as entirely new settlements.
Such approvals would extend Israel’s footprint in Area C of the West Bank, beyond the boundaries of the map for a two-state resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict published by former US president Donald Trump.

Right-wing politicians in the final months of the Trump administration had attempted to pressure Netanyahu to authorize the outposts or, at the very least, to issue a declaration of intent to authorize them.
Gantz blocked the declaration and it’s now believed that outpost authorization would create diplomatic conflict between Israel and the Biden administration, which has warned Israel not to take any unilateral measures in the West Bank.
US President Joe Biden has not put forward a peace plan, but would like to maintain the status quo in the West Bank.
The explanation attached to the bill pointed out that the legislation was completing a process already approved by the security cabinet in 2017 when it created a committee to work on authorizing the outposts.
That committee, headed by veteran settler leader Pinchas Wallerstein, never received the necessary support to complete the preparatory work needed for authorization and he left his post in the summer of 2020.
Some 100 illegal fledgling Jewish communities were created in Judea and Samaria between 1991 and 2005. The Left has claimed that these were illegal attempts by settlers to expand Israel’s landholdings in the West Bank.
The Right has argued that most Israeli communities – including within sovereign Israel – were built without final authorization. It has contended that these fledgling communities – some of which have existed for more than two decades – were built with initial authorization and or funding from the IDF or ministries, but final approval was never granted for political reasons.
Right-wing politicians and settler leaders have argued that the process must now be completed.
Netanyahu has slowly allowed outposts to be authorized as new neighborhoods of settlements, but the Right would like to see a more immediate and wide-scale solution. They have focused in particular on 70 outposts represented by the Forum of Young settlements.
Settlers leaders on Sunday called on Right-wing parties to support the legislation.
“We trust that all the right-wing factions and the government will support this law, and will authorize these communities quickly,” Gush Etzion Regional Council Head Shlomo Ne’eman said.
Mateh Binyamin Regional Council head Israel Ganz said, “the time has come to complete the work and give the tens of thousands of residents sent by the Israeli governments basic rights such as regular water supply, electricity and infrastructure.
“There is no need to wait for the formation of a new government. The Knesset can and must do so now,” Gantz said.

Source: Jerusalem Post

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