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Folks, I wanted to write a blog post to relay the great news about the Defense Ministry's response to a Peace Now petition in which Peace Now urges the court to demolish 6 start-up neighborhoods in Judea and Samaria. When I saw the Peace Now press release on the topic, I realized that I couldn't have written it better (except for their trigger happiness in using the word "illegal.") So here's the news in their words. Enjoy.
Below the press release, see my comment about Givat Assaf.
The Government Announces 4 New Settlements in the West Bank
a formal response to Peace Now's Supreme Court petition against six illegal outposts. In the response the government declares its intention to legalize four outposts, in isolated areas.
The Civil Administration has been instructed to begin a process of legalizing the outposts of Ma'ale Rehavam, Haroeh, Givat Assaf, and Mitzpe Lachshish. The former government had previously promised to remove the illegal construction built on private land, but had not declared its intention to legalize the outposts.
The Supreme Court will hold a hearing on the petition on Wednesday, May 22nd.
Peace Now: “The intention to legalize outposts as new settlements is no less than a slap in the face of Secretary Kerry's new process and is blatant reassurance to settler interests. The new Government is indicating it is not committed to peace and to two state solution. The decision to retroactively legalize settler movements gives free reign to illegal settler activities, which continue to establish strategic facts on the ground and harm the chances for peace.
Download the State response (in Hebrew)
The Givat Assaf outpost (near Bet El)
The Outposts to be legalized according to the State response:
2. Haroeh (North of Ramallah) – The Minister of Defense instructed the Civil Administration to launch a survey procedure meant to declare the lands of the outpost as “State Land”, as part of preparing the possibility to legalize the outpost.
3. Givat Assaf (East of Ramallah) – The Government instructed the Civil Administration to explore the possibilities to legalize the outpost, based on claims by settlers that they have purchased parts of the land. According to the response given to the court, over the past few months the settlers managed to buy three parcels of land on which ¾ of the outpost's structures are built.
4. Mitzpe Lachish (South West of Hebron) – The previous Government had informed the court its wish to legalize the outpost, however, because of the elections the decision was left to the new Government. In the response to the court the Government declares, “a decision to include the outpost in the Negohot settlement land, should be taken soon”. This translates into an intention to legalize the outpost, by calling it a “neighborhood” of the settlement of Negohot.
As for the two remaining outposts on the petition, Mitzpe Yizhar (South of Nablus) and Ramat Gilad (East of Qalqilya), the Government states that most of the structures that were built on private land were removed, but does not say anything about the future of the outposts themselves.
END PRESS RELEASE
My son Yehuda and I had the privilege to be in Givat Assaf on the first Shabbat after it was established in 2001. They were looking for some people to be there over Shabbat. It was just after the funeral of Assaf Hershkowitz who was murdered by Arabs nearby and who the town is named after.
Here's a short video about Givat Assaf, which is an extension neighborhood of Bet El.
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