(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Pinchas Wallerstein will spearhead the government’s drive to legalize unauthorized settler homes and outposts, the Prime Minister’s Office announced on Thursday.
The well-known and iconic right-wing politician is the former Yesha Council director- general.
“Wallerstein is a principled and experienced person who will contribute a great deal,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. His office added that Wallerstein will head a newly created Regulations Committee for outposts and homes in Judea and Samaria.
The left-wing group Peace Now has accused Wallerstein in the past of helping to build illegal structures during his long tenure as the Binyamin Regional Council head.
“It’s like putting the wolf in charge of the sheep,” said Hagit Ofran of Peace Now, who noted that he had been hired to help fix the problem he helped create.
“The master of the illegal construction of outposts, roads, and settlements will now head the committee that should recommend how to legalize them,” Ofran said.
But many of Wallerstein’s colleague lauded his appointment.
The Yesha Council said Wallerstein was a highly skilled professional who has always worked to do what’s best for the State of Israel.
“There is no one who understands the problem better than he does,” the Yesha Council said.
Wallerstein’s task is separate from the newly created Settlement’s Law that would authorize illegal settler homes on private Palestinian property in exchange for compensation payments to the Palestinian landowners.
The High Court of Justice is now adjudicating the legality of that law.
However, Wallerstein’s committee will work on the issue regardless of the outcome of the law. Peace Now estimates that there are some 4,000 such unauthorized settler homes in the West Bank.
Right-wing politicians have campaigned for the legalization of those homes as well as the structures on State land. The appointment of Wallerstein is seen as a sign of Netanyahu’s commitment to resolving the problem.