Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday set up a small ministerial panel with the authority to legalize unauthorized outposts on state land.

According to the Prime Minister’s Office, the panel was designed to legalize three West Bank outposts: Rehalim, Bruchin and Sansana.

In all three cases, according to the Prime Minister’s Office, the government made initial decisions to authorize the three communities as legal settlements over a decade ago, but technical issues prevented their legalization.

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.

The new panel will now resolve the technical issues related to the three outposts and then legalize them. It was created in lieu of Netanyahu’s promise to bring the issue to the government for approval.

Israeli officials have explained that authorizing these three outposts does not violate Israel’s pledge not to create new settlements, because these communities were created prior to that promise.

Israeli officials insisted that the panel was formed to solely deal with the issues relating to Bruchin, Rehalim and Sansana.

But the language of the panel’s technical mandate is broader. It speaks of legalizing settlements that are now unauthorized outposts, and which were constructed years ago on state land with state funds or with initial agreements from state bodies. Some two-thirds of the 105 unauthorized outposts included in the 2005 report for the government by Talia Sasson fit this criteria.

The work of this panel differs from that of the outpost committee created earlier this year, which is headed by Judge Edmund Levy. That committee is charged with examining the legal issues regarding the outposts.

The new panel is charged with resolving the issues. Its members will include Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Vice Premier Moshe Ya’alon and Minister-without- Portfolio Bennie Begin.

Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein said that he hoped the panel would move quickly to authorize Bruchin, Rehalim and Sansana, possibly in the coming days.

“We are obliged to bring clarity for the wonderful young families [in these communities] that could not define their future for years,” he said.

Hagit Ofran of Peace Now said the new committee was further proof of Netanyahu’s true agenda to continue to develop settlements at the expense of the peace process.

She added that it was unclear to her how this decision impacted a previous 1996 cabinet decision that all new settlements must be brought to the government for approval.

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