The Defense Ministry has for months been examining plans for the possible legalization of all unauthorized West Bank outposts, Hadashot TV news reported Tuesday night.
The TV station obtained a tape in which Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben Dahan (Jewish Home) could be heard speaking about the project at a faction meeting of his party on Monday.
“Over the past six months we’ve formed a team of 4-5 people at the Defense Ministry and we’ve begun to map out all the outposts — around 70 of them — that are unregulated,” Ben Dahan said.
“Just this last Thursday we sat for almost three hours and ranked the communities by category — how they can be authorized and through what measures.”
Ben Dahan noted that some outposts would be easier to legalize than others, giving the example of Asa’el, near Hebron, which he said had been built following a government decision, but its construction had not been properly regulated.
On Sunday Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman submitted a proposal to the cabinet to legalize the Havat Gilad outpost, days after one of its residents, Rabbi Raziel Shevach, was killed in a terror attack.
Havat Gilad residents claim to have purchased the land prior to establishing the outpost in 2002. The settlers named the hilltop community after Gilad Zar, the security coordinator of the Shomron Regional Council, who was shot dead in an attack a year earlier.
Palestinians, however, have denied the purchase, claiming that the documents were fake.
Controversial legislation passed in February 2016 allows the Israeli government to retroactively expropriate private Palestinian land where illegal outpost homes have been built, provided that the outposts were established “in good faith” or had government support and that the Palestinian owners receive financial compensation for the land.
But the law has been frozen by the High Court of Justice, which last month directed the state to explain why it should not be struck down on constitutional grounds. The government has until February 25 to put together a response.
Although Israel does not have a constitution, it does possess a series of quasi-constitutional basic laws that underpin the court’s perspective on the legality of legislation.
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has himself criticized the law as unconstitutional and called for its annulment in his legal response to petitions against the legislation.
Shortly after it was passed, Mandelblit announced that he would not defend the law on behalf of the state.