OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Nitzan Alon on Sunday signed an order transforming the Bruchin outpost into a legal settlement under the auspices of the Samaria Regional Council.
Alon’s signature on the document was technical matter. It implemented a March decision reached by a small panel of cabinet ministers to change the status of three outposts – Bruchin, Rehelim and Sansana – to authorized settlements.
Alon has yet to sign on orders legalizing Sansana and Rehelim.
The panel pre-dated the Ministerial Settlements Committee, created in June, which now has the power to authorize new settlements.
Since Bruchin’s creation in 1999 on state land, some 30 km. east of Tel Aviv, it has sought legalization from the government. Those efforts intensified in the past four or five years, as the council organized visits to Bruchin by ministers, politicians and other supporters.
“This is a day of celebration for the State of Israel and for Zionism,” Samaria Regional Council head Gershon Mesika said. It corrects years of in which Bruchin residents were unjustly harmed by the fact that their community lacked the proper authorizations, he said.
Bruchin’s transformation into a legal settlement is a “triumph of common sense over the politics and convictions of the anti-Zionist Left,” Mesika said.
He credited Bruchin’s authorization to the work of left-wing organizations, such as Peace Now, whose petitions to the High Court of Justice against West Bank outposts had backfired and pushed the government to legalize some of them.
On a note of irony, Mesika recalled that just two weeks ago, the Samaria Regional Council had issued honorary citizenship certificates to Peace Now executive director Yariv Oppenheimer and to attorney Michael Sfard, who often represents left-wing nongovernmental groups in court with regard to land issues in Area C of the West Bank. Under the Olso Accords, Israel has full civil and military control over Area C.
Bruchin was built without the proper permits but with the support of NIS 6.6 million from the Construction and Housing Ministry, according to information from the 2005 outpost report for the government penned by attorney Talia Sasson.
It is home to more than 100 families, which made it one of the largest West Bank outposts, according to the Samaria Regional Council.
In March, the government said that the move to authorize the three outposts was simply an implementation of decisions taken by past governments that were never put in place.
Peace Now has charged that the move breaks Israel’s pledge to the international community not to create new settlements.
On Sunday, Oppenheimer said that Alon’s order was “more proof that this government is deepening the occupation, and legalizing things [settlements] that past governments never approved.”
In March, the international community also condemned the initial decision by the cabinet panel to legalize three outposts, claiming that it harmed the peace process.
The Palestinians have insisted that they will not negotiate with Israel unless it freezes settlement activity and Jewish building in east Jerusalem.
This year, in particular, the government has more vocally supported the legalization of unauthorized Jewish building in the West bank.
In July, however, a three-person legal panel presented the government-initiated Levy Report, which said that Israel has the right under international law to create authorized Jewish communities in the West Bank. It urged the government to legalize Jewish West Bank building, including all outposts located on state land.
The report has yet to be debated and voted upon by the Ministerial Settlements Committee.
The Samaria Regional Council is circulating an online petition in support of the Levy Report. It is based on a letter 65 American Jewish leaders sent to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, urging him to approve the report.
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