THE OFRA SETTLEMENT is seen from the Amona outpost in the West Bank..
(photo credit: RONEN ZVULUN/REUTERS)
The Defense Ministry is working on a plan to legalize 70 unauthorized outposts in the West Bank, it was revealed on Tuesday night.
Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan discussed the plan in a Bayit Yehudi faction meeting at the Knesset earlier this week, a video of which was leaked to Channel 2 News.
During his briefing to party colleagues, Ben-Dahan said that a ministerial team of four or five people had been established six months ago to identify outposts that could be legalized and to rank them by how difficult such legalization would be.
The deputy minister said that approximately 70 such outposts had been identified, noting that some of them could be legalized relatively easily.
Ben-Dahan gave as an example the Asael outpost in Judea, close to the Green Line, which he said would be easy to authorize.
He explained that after the Rabin government took office in 1992, it passed a resolution blocking both construction in and authorization of unauthorized outposts, and that if this resolution was simply overturned, many outposts could be easily authorized.
Outposts are unauthorized communities which settler activists manage to establish without governmental permission, using prefabricated houses and other structures, and basic utilities such as electricity and water that are not connected to the national networks.
Many of these outposts are in far-flung areas of the West Bank and are populated by ideological hardcore members of the settler movement.
According to Peace Now, there are 97 unauthorized outposts around the West Bank.
Ben-Dahan declined to comment further on the issue, saying he would not respond to reports resulting from leaked internal party discussions.