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Government panel legalizes three outposts
By HERB KEINON
04/23/2012
Ministerial committee converts West Bank outposts Rehalim, Bruchin and Sansana into legal settlements; government continues to search for solution on Ulpana neighborhood.
 
A special ministerial committee decided Monday night to legalize the three West Bank outposts of Rehalim, Bruchin and Sansana.

The move comes even as the government continues to search for a solution to the Ulpana outpost located on the outskirts of the Beit El settlement, which the Supreme Court said must be evacuated by the end of April because it was built on private Palestinian land.

Officials said that high-level meetings on the Ulpana outpost were held over the last two days, without any decisions being reached.

One option being discussed is to uproot the outpost, and rebuild it on land inside Bet El that was formally used as an army base.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak has spoken to the media in support of that possibility both on Monday and Sunday of this week.

Regarding Rehalim and Bruchin, which are both in Samaria, and Sansana, located in the southern Hebron Hills, government officials said the decision to formalize their status did not “change the reality on the ground,” and that the move neither represented the establishment of new settlements or the expansion of existing ones.

Rather, the officials said, the move merely gave legal standing to the three communities which, for various technical reasons, had never been granted that status in the past.

The government approved the creation of Bruchin on May 19, 1983, Rehalim on November 27, 1991, and Sansana on June 28, 1998 as legal settlements, according to the Prime Minister’s Office.

Netanyahu promised to formalize the standing of the three communities, as well as find a solution to the Ulpana outpost without destroying 30 homes there, after the security forces removed Jews who had moved into a home they purchased in Hebron earlier this month.

Officials said the decision to formally authorize the three communities as settlements did not violate a pledge Israel made not to create new settlements, because these communities were created prior to that promise.

Attorney Talia Sasson included Bruchin and Rehalim in her 2005 report on outposts that she penned for the government.

According to Sasson, Bruchin was established in May 1999 on state land, some two kilometers away from the Alei Zahav settlement with NIS 3.3 million from the Construction and Housing Ministry.

She said it was unclear if it had authorization from the government or the Defense Ministry. She did note that according to the civil administration, it had been approved by the government.

Sasson added that it also lacked zoning plans.

According to Sasson’s report, Rehalim was created in 1991, near the Kfar Tapuah settlement, with NIS 980,000 from the Construction and Housing Ministry. She said that it lacked authorization from the government or the Defense Ministry.

It was built partially on state land and partially on land that belonged to private Palestinians, she added.

Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.
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