Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman bashed unauthorized Israeli building in the West Bank as “sabotaging the settlement movement” during a Tuesday briefing with reporters at the Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv.
Liberman, whose ministry oversees Israeli activity in the West Bank, also said plans to expand settlement building would not be affected by Washington’s lack of support.
Addressing four disputed homes that went up last month in the illegal outpost of Sde Boaz, south of Jerusalem, Liberman said that “there was no reason for them to have been built.”
He similarly referred to a new law to legalize wildcat West Bank outposts as “sabotaging the settlement movement.”
The controversial Regulation Law passed by the Knesset in February allows the Israeli government to expropriate private Palestinian land where illegal outpost homes have been built ex post facto, provided that the outposts were “built in good faith” or had government support. The law is being challenged in the Supreme Court.
Liberman, who himself lives in a settlement, Nokdim, argued that, contrary to the understanding of its supporters on the right, the legislation actually legalizes 10,000 Palestinian houses that were unlawfully built while only validating 2,000 wildcat Israeli homes in the West Bank.
Relating to his government’s relations with the Trump administration in Washington, Liberman admitted that the White House “does not love it, but we’ve decided to build.”
The Defense minister, whose office is responsible for authorizing West Bank construction, boasted that a total of 3,400 housing units have authorized for building since the beginning of the calendar year.
He added that such approvals are not directly coordinated with Washington, but that the Trump Administration has not been turning the matter “into a diplomatic crisis.”
Regarding the resurgence in violent activity from “hilltop youth” — young people who move to settlement outposts, resist soldiers’ attempts to evacuate them, and have been known to carry out hate-crime attacks — Liberman said the “disturbed idiots” have caused “the most significant damage to the settlement movement.”
He added that he would have no problem in signing additional administrative orders banning them from the West Bank or jailing them.