A-G: Delay legalizing outpost until after elections

Netanyahu government has stated that it plans to legalize outposts on state land, remove those on private Palestinian property.

Itamar settlement hilltop 311 R (photo credit: Abed Omar Qusini / Reuters)
Itamar settlement hilltop 311 R
(photo credit: Abed Omar Qusini / Reuters)
Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein has asked the state to wait until after the elections to legalize the Mitpze Lachish outpost, located on state land in the South Hebron Hills.
The state referenced his opinion in a legal document that it submitted to the High Court of Justice on Wednesday in response to a 2009 petition by Peace Now, which had demanded that the state execute demolition orders against Mitzpe Lachish and five other West Bank outposts.
The IDF initially issued the orders in 2004, but they were not carried out. Peace Now, which monitors settlement activity in the West Bank, filed a petition with the court in 2006, and the case was closed when the state said it would take down the outposts.
When the state failed to do so, the organization resubmitted its petition to the court in 2009. On Wednesday, the state filed information to the court on the status of the six outposts.
Under Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s government, the state has changed its attitude with respect to West Bank outposts.
It has stated that it plans to legalize those on state land and remove those on private Palestinian property.
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Mitzpe Lachish is the only outpost of the six that is fully located on state land. Four others – Mitzpe Yitzhar, Ma’aleh Rehavam, Ramat Gilad and Givat Ha’roeh – are on land with mixed status.
The sixth outpost, Givat Assaf, located off of Route 60, is built on land that the state classifies as belonging to private Palestinians.
The High Court had initially asked the state to demolish Givat Assaf by July 1, but agreed to extend the deadline until February 2013, to allow the Ministerial Settlements Committee to examine the issue and new information that has emerged.
The state mentioned in Wednesday’s document that settlers had purchased some of the property on which the modular homes stood. It also noted that five new modular structures had been added to the outpost, as well as a play area.
The state said it planned to demolish three homes on private Palestinian property in Mitzpe Yitzhar and Ma’aleh Rehavam.
The state added that in Ramat Gilad, homes on private Palestinian land had been relocated according to an agreement between the government and the settlers.
In its response to the court, the state also took issue with Peace Now’s having lumped together all six outposts in one case. It pointed out that the issues surrounding each were very different. As a result, it said, it was difficult to adjudicate them together.
Peace Now plans to submit to the court a response to the state’s document.
“The government is doing its best to avoid enforcing the law,” said the group’s executive director, Yariv Oppenheimer.
“It is finding new excuses every time.”