E1 area linking Jerusalem and Ma’aleh Adumim 370.
(photo credit: Tovah Lazaroff)
In an unusual move, the Gush Etzion Regional Council on Friday built two outposts within the boundaries of the settlements of Tekoa and Bat Ayin. The Kiryat Arba Council also built one on the outskirts of its settlement.
In all three cases, the councils placed modular homes on state land in what they hope will become neighborhoods of the three settlements.
Although the councils had in the past drawn up plans to build there, they do not have permits to do so.
During the last decade, the local and regional settler councils have largely refrained from unauthorized building, and instead have battled to legalize some 100 outposts built from 1995 to 2005, mostly with their assistance.
But on Saturday night, Kiryat Arba Council head Malachi Levinger and Gush Etzion Regional Council head Davidi Perl said the building was in response to the Palestinian killing of three teenagers last month, Naftali Fraenkel, 16, Gil-Ad Shaer, 16, and Eyal Yifrah, 19.
“The murders sought to harm and weaken the settlement enterprise,” said Perl.
“Our answer is to strengthen our hold on the land and to build instead of being uprooted.”
Building outposts is a clear sign Gush Etzion is an integral part of the State of Israel, said Moshe Savile, deputy head of the Gush Etzion Regional Council.
“It’s the first step toward applying [Israeli] sovereignty over the Gush [Etzion bloc],” Savile said.
Separately, the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip has spoken with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s office about authorizing new settler building in response to the murder of the teens.
Hagit Ofran of Peace Now accused the settler leaders of exploiting the situation in the aftermath of the murders to advance building plans.
The actions of the two councils, she said, “are illegal. But I do not know that anyone will do anything about it.”
Separately, activists also built two new outposts. Residents of Ma’aleh Adumim set up some tents on an unbuilt area of their settlement, known as E1.
Women in Green with the help of activists have taken over an abandoned farmhouse on state land near the Gush Etzion junction and plan to build an outpost there as well.