Israel to legalise farm outposts across occupied West Bank

Greenhouses at a farm in the West Bank, 3 November 2020

Israel’s Civil Administration is working towards legalising farm outposts based across the occupied West Bank using new regulations, reported Haaretz.

Around 30 to 35 illegal outposts meet the basic criteria which includes being located on “state-owned land”.

The implementation of the new system will require the approval of Defence Minister Benny Gantz and the Israeli Ministry of Justice.

A source in the Yesha Council, the settlers’ main umbrella organisation, told Haaretz that the head of the influential settlement movement Amana, Ze’ev Hever, is spearheading the legalisation efforts on behalf of the council. He also lobbied to increase the number of farm outposts that would qualify under the new regulation.

Currently, the Israeli Civil Administration is pushing to legalise between 30 to 40 farm outposts, including some that exist and ones that will be established later in the West Bank.

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The new system is expected to make it difficult for Palestinian shepherds, who will have to obtain permits that were not required of them in the past.

There are dozens of outposts for grazing animals in the West Bank. In recent years, a minimum of 50 outposts, taking over 240,000 dunams (240 square kilometres), about seven per cent of Area C of the West Bank, were constructed by the settlement movement Amana.

These outposts comprise large swathes of land with very few residents because extensive land is allocated for grazing purposes. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, the outposts that were permitted to hold the land do not have construction permits.

Data from the Israeli human rights movement, Peace Now, indicates that there are around 666,000 settlers who live in 145 large settlements and 140 random outposts in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem. All Israeli settlements and outposts are illegal under international law.

(Source / 06.09.2022)

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