The Netanyahu government has announced it will destroy several Jewish “outpost” communities by the end of the year – and will legalize others.
Responding to a High Court hearing initiated by Peace Now against Jewish communities it considers illegal, government spokesmen said that all buildings on land found to be owned by Palestinian Authority Arabs will be destroyed. Approximately 50 structures are affected, primarily at the communities of Givat Asaf, Givat HaRoeh and Ramat Gilad, all of them located in Samaria.
The response to the court stated that the government, for the first time, will legalize hilltop communities built on private land. This presumably would include Gilad Farm (Havat Gilad), bought and owned by the Zar family, but targeted by security forces several times the past two years. Arabs claim the land is theirs.
Last week, a pre-dawn raid by gun-wielding police, who shot plastic bullets at Jewish residents there in an unprecedented show of violence, caused an outrage among a wide range of political leaders. Police claimed they shot in response to rock attacks, but no evidence has been produced to contradict eyewitness accounts that there was no rock-throwing.
The government response to the court has left both left-wing and nationalists dissatisfied. Peace Now, which wages a campaign against any Jewish presence in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem areas united after the Six Day War, commented that previous promises by government officials to destroy outposts have not been fulfilled. Peace Now Secretary-General Yariv Oppenheimer said. "Experience shows that in nine months the state can make up excuses to avoid evictions."
Defense Minister Ehud Barak, former chairman of the anti-outpost Labor party, has said several times in the past he would carry out the demolitions. If they are carried out this time, they will be done so under the orders of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who previously has made more concessions to the Palestinian Authority than his Labor and Kadima party predecessors.
Not everyone in the Likud is happy with his decision. Knesset Member Tzipi Hotovely, a leading nationalist, said that all of the hilltop communities should be legalized and warned that demolitions will cost the Likud support from its own party.
She has favored Israel’s officially annexing Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, which legally are under military rule. The only obstacle to many homes being of “legal” status is the missing signature of Defense Minister Barak.
Judea and Samaria committees described the government position on outposts as “a punch in the face” to nationalists. Residents seem unconcerned and continue to rebuild structures that security forces have razed.
Itamar Ben Gvir, an aide to National Union Knesset Member Dr. Michael Ben-Ari, commented, “I dare them to raze all the illegal structures in Umm al-Farm and Rahat," large Arab and Bedouin cities in Israel which are replete with illegal structures.