Likud ministers: Gantz to blame for delaying settler outpost legalization

"Hopefully [a government decision] will happen as soon as possible."

Tzachi Hanegbi at a protest tent erected by the Yesha Council and Young Settlements Forum outside Netanyahu’s Jerusalem office. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Tzachi Hanegbi at a protest tent erected by the Yesha Council and Young Settlements Forum outside Netanyahu’s Jerusalem office.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Likud ministers have blamed Alternate Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benny Gantz for the government’s failure to issue a declaration that it intends to legalize West Bank settler outposts.
“We are going to work very hard to convince the minister of defense to bring a government decision with the prime minister of Israel,” Community Affairs Minister (Likud) Tzachi Hanegbi said on Wednesday, as he stood outside a protest tent the Yesha Council and Young Settlements Forum had erected outside the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem.
“Hopefully, it [a government decision] will happen as soon as possible,” Hanegbi said.
He has written the government declaration on the matter, which, he has explained, will be applicable to 46 of the 70 West Bank outposts.
The matter had been reportedly scheduled for a government vote, but disputes between Gantz and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with regard to the agenda has prevented a government meeting on the matter.
Settlers also fear that Netanyahu has amended Hanegbi’s proposal so that it would include only three outposts. They were particularly upset to learn that while the outposts might be dropped from the agenda, the government had planned to legalize unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Negev, which are in sovereign Israeli territory.
The outposts, in contrast, are outside the boundaries of sovereign Israel, and in some cases their authorization expands Israel’s foothold in Area C, even beyond US President Donald Trump’s map, which allows Israel to annex up to 30% of the West Bank, where all the settlements are located.
To underscore the issue, the outpost protest tent was designed to look like a mock Bedouin tent.
Deputy Health Minister Yoav Kisch (Likud) said, “I know that the prime minister supports this, and the one who is currently stopping it is Gantz. I call on Gantz to say enough abuse of the [outpost] residents, there is no reason to refrain from acting. The time is now. Allow it to go to the government, and it will pass. Thousands of people do not have to suffer because of political revenge.”
At issue in particular, is the difficulty the communities experience in receiving standard utility services, such as water and electricity. It is difficult to provide those because of the outposts’ current illegal status.
Inside the tent, settlers also raised concern about whether it was Netanyahu who was behind the delay, particularly in light of US President-elect Joe Biden’s expected opposition to such a move. It is for this reason that the Right and the settler leaders want to Netanyahu to act before January 20, when Trump leaves office.
“We’re almost 20 days to Biden,” South Hebron Hills Regional Council head Yochai Damri said as he tapped his watch with his finger.
He asked Hanegbi if he thought that Netanyahu would really authorize 46 communities so close to the change of administrations.
Hanegbi explained that the decision he had drafted was only declarative, and would allow the normalization of life in the communities, but would not legalize them.
He assured them that Netanyahu supported the move.
Itay Zar, whose family founded the Gilad Farm outpost, said it was important for the government to vote on the matter, but was skeptical of the ultimate value of a declarative statement.
He noted that the government had, in principle, voted to legalize his community as a full-fledged settlement, but in practice little had happened.
MK Avi Dichter accused Israel of acting like the British had during the period of Mandatory Palestine, when it prevent Jewish building.
Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan called on Netanyahu to bang on the table, or even tip it over if he had to, in order to ensure that the outposts are legalized.