The Civil Administration issued demolition orders against nine structures in the Givat Ronen outpost in the northern West Bank this week, with Development of the Negev and Galilee and National Resilience Minister Yitzhak Wasserlauf calling the orders an “unnecessary provocation.”
Residents of the outpost released photos of the orders hung on the buildings, stating that they were constructed without permits and that a warning ordering a halt to construction at the site was already issued in December. The Civil Administration has ordered that the buildings be destroyed by February 28. If the buildings are not demolished by then, the Civil Administration will take action to demolish the buildings itself, at the expense of those who built them.
About 40 families live there. They stressed that the demolition is “unusual” and that they have not seen a demolition operation on this scale for years.
Givat Ronen, located near Yitzhar and Har Bracha, is considered part of the “Young Settlement,” a collection of outposts spread throughout the West Bank. Earlier this month, the cabinet legalized nine outposts – Givat Ronen was not on the list.
Menahem Ben Shahar, a spokesperson for Givat Ronen, told Kol Barama radio earlier this week that “There’s all sorts of arm-twisting at all sorts of levels. We’re very disappointed. We expect the entire government and Prime Minister [Benjamin Netanyahu], Defense Minister [Yoav] Gallant and all those who were supposed to receive responsibility [over these issues] from Gallant to do what they promised and to stop being scared of all sorts of imaginary things and the Americans.”
If the demolitions in Givat Ronen are carried out, it will be the fourth outpost demolition this year.
Last week, over a thousand trees were uprooted by the Civil Administration at the Nahalat Chen olive grove near Shiloh. Just days before that demolition, Border Police evacuated an outpost called Gofna in the Binyamin region of the West Bank.
"We expect the entire government and Prime Minister [Benjamin Netanyahu], Defense Minister [Yoav] Galant and all those who were supposed to receive responsibility [over these issues] from Galant to do what they promised and to stop being scared of all sorts of imaginary things and the Americans."Ben Shahar
Last month, forces evacuated the Or Haim outpost in Samaria, sparking outrage from members of the Religious Zionist Party, who boycotted a cabinet meeting shortly afterward.
“We came to Givat Ronen for these heroic settlers,” said Wasserlauf during a visit to the outpost on Tuesday. “It is clear to everyone that this is an unnecessary provocation, because the right-wing government will not evacuate settlements and houses in the settlement.”
Wasserlauf stressed that in the coalition agreements between the Likud and Otzma Yehudit, the two parties agreed that the government would regulate the outposts with a dedicated budget of NIS 300 million. According to the agreement, this is all supposed to occur within 18 months of the swearing in of the government.
The cabinet decided earlier this month to transfer responsibility of the regulation of the outposts to the Development of the Negev and Galilee and National Resilience Ministry, including authority over water, electricity, necessary public buildings and essential infrastructure in the outposts.
Agreement between Smotrich and Galant
The demolition orders in Givat Ronen came as the government announced an agreement between Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and Galant to transfer authority over civil matters from Galant to Smotrich.
According to the parts of the agreement that have been published, a civilian will be appointed as the deputy director of the Civil Administration to handle civil matters in the West Bank. All civilian staff officers will be fully under the responsibility of the deputy director and Smotrich will have control over the appointment of the staff officers.
Planning and construction in the West Bank, including the calling of meetings of the Higher Planning Council of the Civil Administration, will be under Smotrich's authority as well. This part of the agreement comes just days after the cabinet decided that Settlement and National Missions Minister Orit Struck will appoint members on her behalf in the planning committee for settlement in Judea and Samaria in the Higher Planning Council of the Civil Administration, the Israel Land Authority, the National Planning and Building Council and the district planning councils in the northern and southern districts.
The unit in charge of supervision and enforcement concerning illegal construction will also be under Smotrich’s control. The Civil Administration’s activity concerning the regulation of settlements will also be under Smotrich’s authority.
The major-general at the head of Central Command will have the power to take control of the supervision and enforcement unit in “unusual or security-related cases,” although he will need to notify Smotrich. In the case of a dispute, the prime minister will have the final say on the matter.
Smotrich will additionally have control over transportation planning and infrastructure development in the West Bank. It is unclear if the agreement will interfere with the decision to give control over infrastructure development in West Bank outposts to Wasserlauf.