Israel to authorize four West Bank settler outposts

JERUSALEM Thu May 16, 2013 7:33am EDT

Palestinian police officers block the road to prevent Palestinian demonstrators from marching towards the Jewish settlement of Beit El March 30, 2011 during a rally marking Land Day in the West Bank city of Ramallah. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

Palestinian police officers block the road to prevent Palestinian demonstrators from marching towards the Jewish settlement of Beit El March 30, 2011 during a rally marking Land Day in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

Credit: Reuters/Mohamad Torokman

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JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel plans to declare legal four unauthorized West Bank settler outposts, a court document showed on Thursday, days before U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry returns to the region to try to restart peace talks.

Israel has been sending mixed signals on its internationally condemned settlement policy as Kerry pursues efforts to revive negotiations Palestinians quit in 2010 in anger over Israeli settlement building on occupied land they seek for a state.

In a reply to a Supreme Court petition by the Israeli anti-settlement group Peace Now, the government said it had taken steps in recent weeks to authorize retroactively four West Bank outposts built without official permission.

Nabil Abu Rdainah, a spokesman of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, condemned the move.

"Israel continues to put obstacles and to sabotage U.S. efforts to resume negotiation," he said. "Our position is clear and that is all settlement is illegal and must be stopped."

A spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declined to comment on the government's response to the Supreme Court.

Most the world deems all Israeli settlements in the West Bank, which Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war, as illegal. Israel disputes this and distinguishes between about 120 government-authorized settlements and dozens of outposts built by settlers without permission.

Peace Now said in a statement that "The intention to legalize outposts as new settlements is no less than a slap in the face of Secretary Kerry's new process and is blatant reassurance to settler interests."

Last week, Peace Now and Israeli media reports said Netanyahu has been quietly curbing some settlement activity by freezing tenders for new housing projects, in an apparent effort to help the U.S. drive to renew peace talks.

But Peace Now said at the time construction already under way was continuing, and Israel announced last week that it had given preliminary approval for 300 new homes in Beit El settlement as part of a plan Netanyahu announced a year ago.

Kerry, due to meet Netanyahu and Abbas separately next week, has said he believes "the parties are serious" about finding a way back into talks.

The main issues that would have to be resolved in a peace agreement include the borders between Israel and a Palestinian state, the future of Jewish settlements, the fate of Palestinian refugees and the status of Jerusalem.

Some 500,000 Israelis have settled in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which was also captured from Jordan in 1967. About 2.7 million Palestinians live in those areas.

(Editing by Jeffrey Heller and Alistair Lyon)

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Comments (12)
EastinWest wrote:
Shocking that peace loving Israel, days after the 65th anniversary of the most destructive country to be born in the Middle East, right before peace talks, would do such a move… Whodathunkit!

May 16, 2013 5:18am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Vivarto wrote:
“The intention to legalize outposts as new settlements is no less than a slap in the face of Secretary Kerry’s new process and is blatant reassurance to settler interests,” Peace Now said in a statement.

Now this sounds so pompous unless readers realize that “Peace Now” is a tiny unimportant fringe group. Why would Reuters even bother to quote what they say?

then this:
“Most the world deems all Israeli settlements in the West Bank, which Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war, as illegal.”

It is quite irrelevant what “Most the world” deems.
Arabs are not going to give away Mecca and Jews are not going to give away Judea. (Even if their enemies are calling it “West-Bank.”

May 16, 2013 5:45am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Vivarto wrote:
EastinWest wrote:
Shocking that peace loving Israel, days after the 65th anniversary of the most destructive country to be born in the Middle East, right before peace talks, would do such a moveā€¦ Whodathunkit!

Yea, really Israel is the most destructive country in the Middle East???
Syrians have killed more of their own people in just 2 years than all the Arab dead in all the wars with Israel.
Lebanon civil war killed 200,000 people. Saddam Hussein killed close to a million, and the Iraqis continue to kill each other by the tens almost every day even now. Arabs are murdering each other in Yemen,Libya, Algeria, Egypt. In Sudan Arabs murdered hundreds of thousands blacks. Enslaved and raped other hundreds of thousands.
In Turkey they have murdered over tens of thousands of Kurds in the same time, in Iran people hunderds of thousands have been imprisoned and thousands killed since the “revolution.”
But EastinWest and other antisemites claim that “Israel is the most destructive country.”

May 16, 2013 5:54am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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