Israel seeks to legalize controversial settler outpost

State asserts Adei Ad doesn’t lie on Palestinian land; defense minister dismisses notion of West Bank construction freeze

Raoul Wootliff is the producer and occasional host of the Times of Israel Daily Briefing podcast.

Illustrative picture of a family walking in the Adei Ad outpost, November 27, 2003 (Photo by Flash90)
Illustrative picture of a family walking in the Adei Ad outpost, November 27, 2003 (Photo by Flash90)

The Attorney General’s Office has reportedly informed Israel’s High Court of the government’s intention to legalize the unauthorized West Bank settler outpost of Adei Ad.

The State’s request came following a petition of Yesh Din, a human rights watchdog active in the West Bank, Israel Radio reported Wednesday. The petition, presented in the name of four council heads of Palestinian villages, claimed the outpost was illegal and demanded it be demolished.

Adei Ad is part of the Shiloh bloc of settlements and lies between several Palestinian villages north of Ramallah.

The radio report said the state admitted that the outpost was built illegally, but based its position on a 2003 High Court ruling that the land was not privately owned by Palestinians and instead belonged to the State of Israel. The state is also reportedly seeking to authorize buildings erected there without permits.

Over 150 cases have been opened against illegal construction in Adei Ad since the outpost was established in 1998.

Speaking during a visit to the Hebron Hills in the southern West Bank Wednesday, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said that “there is not, nor will there be, a freeze in [settlement] construction, given that our legitimacy to settle the land has come under attack.”

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The outpost gained international media attention in January when residents threw stones at American consular officials during a visit made to the West Bank to investigate claims of damage to Palestinian agricultural property.

Consulate staff were touring near the Adei Ad outpost, northeast of Ramallah, along with a number of Palestinians from the nearby village of Turmus Ayya. The villagers had said thousands of olive tree saplings on their lands had been uprooted by local settlers in recent days. A number of villagers with US citizenship invited consulate staff to view the damage up close.

Several settlers hurled rocks at the entourage. Initial reports said American security staff drew their weapons; settlers were quoted saying the security personnel had drawn an M-16 and a pistol. The State Department later denied this. The clash ended without injuries, though light damage was caused to consulate cars.

In August homes in Adei Ad were raided as part of a crackdown of Jewish terrorists following the July 31 firebombing of a home in Duma — located just one kilometer from Adei Ad — which killed three members of the Dawabshe family. The attack is believed to have been carried out by Jewish extremists.

Itamar Sharon contributed to this report.

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