State seeks approval of four West Bank outposts

State accepts residents' claim that Givat Assaf was purchased; Peace Now: Authorization would break promises to int'l community.

Children protest Givat Assaf evacuation order 370 (photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
Children protest Givat Assaf evacuation order 370
(photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
The state is looking to authorize four West Bank outposts, including Givat Assaf that had been slated for demolition, according to a response it submitted Tuesday to the High Court of Justice as part of an ongoing Peace Now petition.
Until Tuesday it had been assumed that the Givat Assaf outpost on Route 60, in the Binyamin region of the West Bank – would be demolished because it had been built on private Palestinian property.
But last year the Givat Assaf residents told the court they had purchased much of the land on which their outpost, of some 30 families, was built.
On Tuesday the state said that it accepted the purchase claims.
It explained that the upper political echelon had ordered the civil administration and the Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories to weigh the possibility of legalizing Givat Assaf.
Such authorization, which would mean either creating a new settlement or linking Givat Assaf to a nearby existing settlement, would fly in the face of past promises Israel has made to the international community, according to Hagit Ofran of Peace Now. Israel has promised not to create a new settlement or to expand existing ones, Ofran said.
The state also dealt with five other outposts that were part of Peace Now’s petition against six outposts, which it first filed in 2005 and then refiled in 2007.
On May 6, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon ordered the Civil Administration to seek ways to authorize Givat Ha-Ro’eh, whose status with respect to Palestinian ownership is unclear.
The state said it wanted to authorize the Mitzpe Lachish outpost built on state land in the South Hebron Hills by expanding the boundaries of the nearby Negahot settlement.
Similarly, it said it wanted to authorize the Ma’aleh Rehavam outpost, built mostly on state land, in the Gush Etzion region.
With respect to the Mitzpe Yitzhar outpost, the state said it had taken down two homes built there on private Palestinian property, and would demolish another one that had since been built on private Palestinian property.
With respect to Ramat Gilad, the state explained an agreement that had been reached with its residents to relocate many of the homes to a different portion of the hilltop on which the outpost is located.