Cabinet expected to give nod today to settlement status for Havat Gilad

The international community sees a move such as this one as a serious obstacle to peace.

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February 4, 2018 01:02
2 minute read.
Cabinet expected to give nod today to settlement status for Havat Gilad

Men work on the roof of a house under construction in the outpost of Havat Gilad, south of the West Bank city of Nablus, November 5, 2013. REUTERS/Nir Elias/File Photo. (photo credit: REUTERS/NIR ELIAS)

 
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The cabinet is expected to legalize the Havat Gilad outpost on Sunday, thereby creating a new settlement in central Samaria.

Such authorizations are rare and raise an outcry in the international community, which holds that Jewish communities in the West Bank, especially the creation of a settlement, is an obstacle to peace.

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US President Donald Trump, unlike his predecessor Barack Obama, has not considered settlement building to be a stumbling block to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Last year, after Trump took office, the Israeli cabinet for the first time in more than 20 years approved an entirely new settlement, called Amihai, in the Binyamin region of Samaria.

During Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s nearly nine years as head of government during his current, second, stretch in office, the cabinet has voted only once to convert outposts into settlements. In 2012, it authorized three outposts as settlements: Bruchin, Rehalim and Santana.

Right-wing politicians and Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan called to authorize Havat Gilad (Gilad Farm) in the aftermath of the January 9 terrorist attack, in which outpost resident and father of six Rabbi Raziel Shevach was shot dead by Palestinians as he drove near his home.

The outpost is named in memory of Gilad Zar, who was killed in that area in a shooting attack by Palestinians in 2001. Havat Gilad was built in 2002 on land partially owned by the Zar family.



“This is an emotional moment for us, for the residents of Havat Gilad, for the cherished Shevach family, and for the State of Israel as a whole,” Dagan said on Wednesday when he heard that the authorization vote had been placed on the cabinet’s schedule.

He thanked Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman as well as the ministers in the government.

“This is a true Zionist and moral step and a genuine and worthy response to terrorism,” Dagan said.

“The murderers and the enemies of Israel must know that they cannot succeed in weakening our hold on the land through criminal terrorism. The opposite is true, the people of Israel will live for eternity,” he said.

The left-wing group Peace Now called on the government not to approve a new settlement, warning it would be a “grave mistake.”

The approval, it said, would include a “building plan that will expand the outpost with the construction of dozens of additional housing units.”

The outpost is located 20 kilometers over the pre-1967 armistice line, and it would be an isolated settlement that would need to be evacuated in any final-status agreement for a two-state solution, Peace Now said.

Also, it is “wedged between Palestinian villages near Nablus,” the NGO added.

Peace Now also charged that only one of the dozens of land plots in the outpost is registered to settlers, and the remainder is private Palestinian property.

Approval by the cabinet, it said, “would set a precedent of legalizing an outpost on private Palestinian land, once considered unthinkable.”

Separately, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot is scheduled to give the government a security assessment at its weekly meeting on Sunday.

Channel 2 reported on Saturday night that security officials have warned Netanyahu of a dramatic deterioration in the security and economic situation in Gaza.

It added that, according to those officials, Israel is considering directly sending food and medicine into Gaza.

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