Gantz mulling hooking up illegal Palestinian homes to national grid

Many Jewish outposts in the West Bank would fit the criteria set in the new Electricity Law.

 PRIME MINISTER Naftali Bennett sits at the government table in the Knesset plenum with Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Defense Minister Benny Gantz. Might Bennett go the way of Sharon, Olmert and Livni? (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH 90)
PRIME MINISTER Naftali Bennett sits at the government table in the Knesset plenum with Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Defense Minister Benny Gantz. Might Bennett go the way of Sharon, Olmert and Livni?
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH 90)

Defense Minister Benny Gantz is considering enabling illegally built Palestinian homes in Area C to hook up to Israel’s national grid of electricity, as well as to water and phone lines, according to sources close to Gantz.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and his Yamina Party colleague, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, campaigned on the issue of preventing illegal Palestinian construction in Area C – parts of the West Bank under full Israeli control – in the past four elections. They spoke to crowds of journalists on hilltops, and warned of the dangers of losing land that Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria needed to grow.

But after the controversial Electricity Law passed on January 5 enabling tens of thousands of illegally built Arab homes inside pre-1967 Israel to be hooked up to electricity, water and phone lines, Shaked demanded that the same be done for unauthorized Jewish settlement outposts in Judea and Samaria.

She revealed that she asked Gantz to take that step in an interview last weekend with the Mazav Haruah newspaper that is distributed in religious-Zionist synagogues. She said in the interview that Gantz was on the way to approve her request via a military order.

Gantz’s associates confirmed what Shaked said, but they added a twist. They said the defense minister had held a professional discussion at IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv on how to implement the Electricity Law in the West Bank.

 INTERIOR MINISTER Ayelet Shaked (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST) INTERIOR MINISTER Ayelet Shaked (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

At the meeting, it was confirmed that many Jewish outposts would fit the criteria set in the new law. There are approximately 100 outposts in Judea and Samaria, most of which are similar to established settlements but lack authorization.

But in the professional discussion, it was revealed that there were also Palestinian towns – including the controversial Khirbet Beit Zakariyyah located between Alon Shvut and Rosh Tzurim in Gush Etzion – that would also fit.

Gantz is expected to make a final decision in the weeks ahead about if, how and when to initiate such a military order, said sources close to him.