An outpost beside the West Bank Jewish settlement of Kochav Hashahar.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new government is expected to formulate within the next three months a plan to legalize unauthorized West Bank settler construction.
Netanyahu is expected to tackle the issue at the request of the Bayit Yehudi Party, which was the last of the Likud’s four coalition partners to finalize a deal to enter the government.
The coalition deal between Bayit Yehudi and the Likud itself has not been published. But based on unofficial copies of the document, including portions published by Army Radio, Bayit Yehudi made the creation of such a plan one of its coalition demands.
Within a month a professional team is to be created on the issue, chaired by the cabinet secretary. It is to include a professional representative from the Defense, Agriculture, and Justice ministries.
According to section 84 of the coa - lition deal, this team will formulate a plan to authorize buildings and neigh - borhoods in Judea and Samaria that were built with the involvement of the authorities.
The team has 60 days in which to present its conclusion and the govern - ment is then expected to implement them.
Section 84 of the deal does not use the word outpost, but it is assumed that this team would tackle the issue of these unauthorized communities along with unauthorized building in existing settlements.
During the last government, the Bayit Yehudi Party was a strong advo - cate of authorizing illegal homes in West Bank settlements, as well as unauthorized outposts, some of which are considered neighborhoods of existing outposts.
In many cases these were homes built with initial nods of approv - al from government ministries, but for whom final permits were never approved.
Former prime ministers Ariel Sha - ron and Ehud Olmert had spoken of removing unauthorized outposts, but since 2011, Netanyahu has changed government policy with regard to the outposts and illegal construction in general.
He implemented a policy to advance the legalization of unauthorized homes on state land, while insisting that illegal homes on private Palestin - ian property must be removed.
Netanyahu has in the past autho - rized 13 outposts, of which nine became neighborhoods of existing settlements and four were trans - formed into new settlements.
But he refused to stand behind large policy initiatives to authorize illegal settler building, particularly when it comes to outposts that would then be turned into settlements. Netanyahu in the past rejected a Knesset bill to authorize the outposts.
He also failed to accept a 2012 report by former Supreme Court jus - tice Edmond Levy that called on the government to legalize unauthorized Jewish building in Judea and Samaria when possible, by providing a plan by which to do so.
Yigal Dilmoni, the deputy head of the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea and Samaria, said, “Today everyone understands that most of the statuary problems can be solved, all that is needed is good will. Israel voted for the Right and the public believes that the settlement enter - prise is important to the State of Israel and therefore, what can be authorized must be authorized,” he said.
Although he said he is hopeful that the government is ready to resolve the issue, “the test, will obviously be in the results.”
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