Illegal outpost to be legalized, joined to nearby settlement, says government agency

West Bank outpost of Ahiya will become part of the Shiloh settlement, according to notice from Civil Administration, although the two will not be territorially contiguous

Jeremy Sharon is The Times of Israel’s legal affairs and settlements reporter

A young child poses for the camera at the illegal outpost of Ahiya, north east of the Shvut Rachel settlement in the West Bank, June 6, 2010. (Kobi Gideon/ FLASH90/ File)
A young child poses for the camera at the illegal outpost of Ahiya, north east of the Shvut Rachel settlement in the West Bank, June 6, 2010. (Kobi Gideon/ FLASH90/ File)

The Civil Administration agency within the Defense Ministry has announced its intention to append the illegal West Bank outpost of Ahiya to the Shiloh settlement, in order to legalize the former as a new neighborhood of the latter.

The Civil Administration issued a notice last week announcing this plan last week, and attached a map of the area designating the new arrangements.

According to the map, a large parcel of land surrounding the Ahiya outpost, which lies to the east of Shiloh, will be demarcated as a Shiloh neighborhood, although it will not be contiguous with the Shiloh settlement itself.

This is a practice that has commonly been used by Israeli governments to legalize illegal outposts without having to pass a government resolution, which is necessary to formally establish a legal new settlement.

Ahiya was originally established in 1997, during the first Netanyahu government, and surrounds an exclave of private Palestinian land which will not be included in the municipal boundaries of the Ahiya neighborhood. Access to the land for the Palestinian landowners, however, is very limited.

The process to legalize Ahiya fully will take several more years, since a new zoning masterplan for the land on which the outpost lies must be approved to include residential housing, which is currently not the case.

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich holds a press conference at the Knesset, Jerusalem, March 13, 2024. (Yonatan Sindel/ Flash90)

The current government legalized, or put on the path to legalization, 16 outposts during its 15 months in office according to left-wing group Peace Now, and appropriated large chunks of West Bank land as state land on which to further develop settlements.

Indeed Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who also serves as an additional minister in the Defense Ministry and controls the newly created Settlements Authority within the ministry, recently took pride in the wide-scale settlement development the current government has succeeded in advancing

“Peace Now noted that the last year in which Smotrich received control over the Civil Administration was a record year for construction approvals in Judea and Samaria,” said the minister’s office in a press release last week.

“Establishing another settlement is the last thing Israel needs,” said Peace Now, in response to the Civil Administration’s announcement.

“Deepening Israeli presence in the West Bank serves only a small and extremist group in Israel and harms the entire Israeli public,” the organization added. “The Israeli government, under Minister Smotrich’s leadership, continues to evade a political solution and imposes facts on the ground that will escalate violence and deepen the dispossession and oppression of Palestinians in the West Bank.”

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