In a move likely to be condemned by the international community, Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu on Wednesday said that his government planned to transform
three West Bank Jewish outposts – Bruchin, Rehalim and Sansana – into new
All three communities were created on state land over a
decade ago, Rehalim in 1991, Sansana in 1997 and Bruchin in 1999, but were never
authorized as settlements by the government.
The government last
authorized a settlement, Negahot, in 1999.
No such authorizations have
been granted since then because the international community believes that such
an act violates Israel’s pledge not to create new settlements.
Wednesday, Netanyahu also agreed to break a policy set by his government to
remove unauthorized homes
on land belonging to private Palestinian
In a statement released to the media Wednesday evening, he said he
would not evacuate five apartment buildings in the Ulpana outpost, situated on
land that has been so classified by the state. It is located on land on the
outskirts of the Beit El settlements, and is now likely to become an authorized
neighborhood of that community.
“The principle that has guided me is to
strengthen Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria,” Netanyahu said.
spoke of his intention to authorize the four outposts, including Ulpana, on the
same day that security forces forcibly removed 15 families from an apartment
building in Hebron.
“Today, I instructed that the status of three
communities – Bruchin, Sansana and Rehalim – be provided for,” he
“I also asked Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein to see to it that
the Ulpana hill in Beit El not be evacuated,” he said.
government has authorized a number of outposts, by making them neighborhoods of
existing settlements, this is the first time that he has so publicly stated his
intention to legalize Jewish homes in the West Bank by creating a new
In his famous policy speech at Bar-Ilan in the summer of
2009, Netanyahu reiterated the policy of the governments of former prime
ministers Ehud Olmert and Ariel Sharon when he said, “We have no intention to
build new settlements or set aside land for new settlements.”
It is this
pledge to the international community that has kept the past governments from
authorizing many of the more than 100 West Bank outposts constructed between
1991 and 2004.
Peace Now, which opposes all settlement construction,
immediately attacked the move.
“Netanyahu is trying to satisfy the
settlers and to give them a compensation prize for the evacuation of Hebron and
the pending evacuation of Migron,” Peace Now executive director Yariv
The Prime Minister’s Office did not respond to a query
by The Jerusalem Post
on the matter.
However, an Israeli official
rejected the notion that authorization of an outpost constituted the creation of
a new settlement.
“They are already settlements, but they did not gain
the necessary paperwork,” an Israeli official told the Post.
The idea, he
said, was to create a legal and administrative framework to allow these
communities to continue.
He said that Netanyahu had stated Wednesday that
he wanted to strengthen Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria but that it must
be done legally.
Settler leaders and right wing politicians who have long
lobbied for the government to authorize outposts were wary of the prime
minister’s statements Wednesday.
Netanyahu has been talking for months
about legalizing Rehalim, Bruchin and Sansana but to date nothing has happened,
said Dani Dayan, who heads the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria
and the Gaza Strip.
“Of course it is a positive step, but I want to see
it materialize,” Dayan said.
He noted that the government had to approve
Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli
Edelstein noted that no time frame had been set for such a meeting.
issue of the Ulpana is different, he said.
The state has promised the
High Court of Justice that it would demolish 30 unauthorized homes there by the
end of the month.
Edelstein said he believed that a solution would be
found to prevent the evacuation of the homes.
At Netanyahu’s request, the
attorney- general will examine the legal issue involved in authorizing Sansana,
Bruchin and Rehalim prior to a cabinet vote on the matter, Weinstein’s office
The attorney-general requested for the National Security Council to
examine all aspects of the issue, the spokesman said.
The spokesman noted
that the issue of the Ulpana neighborhood is being considered by the High Court
of Justice and that Weinstein has also been asked to give his opinion on the