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Resource: Tracking Israel's support for illegal outposts

The Israeli government has been quietly authorizing illegal settlement outposts in recent years. A criminal activity, the trend also exposes Palestinians to increased violence and harassment from settlers.

Text by Rachel Shenhav-Goldberg

Jewish settlers prepare to resist an evacuation operation at the illegal outpost of Amona, February 1, 2017. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

Jewish settlers prepare to resist an evacuation operation at the illegal outpost of Amona in the West Bank, February 1, 2017. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

Illegal settlement outposts have become increasingly regularized during Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s tenure, according to a recent report from Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now. In a trend largely kept hidden from the Israeli public, these unauthorized outposts enjoy unwavering support from the government, despite their clear illegality. According to the report, 15 such outposts have already been legalized, with at least 35 more on the way to authorization.

The goal is permanency; the strategy is “facts on the ground.” Starting out as ostensibly temporary settlements, courts find themselves unable to enforce demolition due to outpost leaders’ clever legal tactics.

One such method involves settlers using various code words and phrases in official correspondence: “The preservation of state lands” means the removal of Palestinian presence from the area, for example. Another strategy sees outpost leaders using trucks on wheels for housing rather than buildings, as vehicles do not require building permits. In this way, the outposts evade court demolition orders.

In recent years, settlement organizations have employed a new method of rapidly expropriating large swaths of Palestinian land with little investment, by setting up agricultural farms. As the report explains, initial takeovers of land for outposts are often carried out by a handful of people, perhaps a couple of families with children, who take over stretches of land for “land cultivation” or grazing.

To the naked eye, these farms look like individual, local initiatives, and because outposts are illegal, it is difficult to establish “who is behind their establishment, where the money originates, and what portion have the various authorities contributed to them.” Yet Peace Now’s research shows that these outposts are an organized and well-funded project backed by non-governmental bodies such as the Amana movement, a private organization promoting Jewish settlement on occupied lands, and the Settlement Division of the World Zionist Organization.

The report emphasizes that the most significant assistance comes from the government itself, which sends a clear message to the settlers: “You may establish facts on the ground illegally, and we will expunge your crimes.” Most of the time, the Israeli authorities remain passive and simply refuse to enforce the law, thereby turning a blind eye to the everyday acts of official bodies.




This attempt to create geographically contiguous settlements has direct effects on the Palestinians. Settlers frequently act as self-appointed “wardens,” expelling Palestinians from their their home villages. Palestinians who remain are often subjected to intimidation in the form of “threats, harassment, theft and even violence by settlers,” according to the report.

Conflicts do not last forever. It is likely that in the future, a peace agreement will involve the evacuation of Israeli settlements — a price that will likely be paid by the settlers themselves, who will have to endure the trauma of leaving their illegally-seized homes. This was the story of Yamit in the Sinai in 1982, then Gush Katif in the Gaza Strip in 2005, whose settlers were evacuated by Israeli authorities.

Rachel Shenhav-Goldberg is an Israeli living in North America. She has a PhD in social work from Tel Aviv University and a post-doctorate from the University of Toronto. Her research focuses on anti-racism in Israel and anti-Semitism in North America. She is also a group facilitator, practices social work, and volunteers with the New Israel Fund in Canada.

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    1. Lewis from Afula

      In the mind of the Hamas & the PLO “moderate” terrorists, Tel-Aviv is an illegal outpost.

      Reply to Comment
      • Bruce Gould

        @Lewis: Here’s a nice interactive app called “Conquer and Divide” that gives a good overview of Israel’s practices of land confiscation and expulsion.


        Maybe we should re-open this discussion about “terrorism”?

        Reply to Comment
        • Lewis from Afula

          But before June 1967, there was no land confiscation in Judea, Samaria and Gaza because those lands were OUTSIDE Israeli control. Yet, there was ARAB TERRORISM then too !
          Sort of damages your basic thesis, does it not ?

          Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Of course it doesn’t damage his basic thesis, and in my view only a doggedly simple-minded person who can’t tell an apple from an orange would think that it does damage his basic thesis. Elsewhere Bruce made this supporting claim:

            ‘I claim that with few exceptions the Zionist founders of Israel were on the same page as Moshe Sharrett when he said “We have forgotten that we have not come to an empty land to inherit it, but we have come to conquer a country from people inhabiting it.”
            The supporting literature can be found in Ben White’s “Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide”’

            Reply to Comment
          • Lewis from Afula

            Is that the best you can do ?

            A cherry-picked, single sentence from a long dead, lacklustre Israeli PM !
            Then, you recommend to read the BS rants of a pro-jihadi apologist.

            I guess Comrade Ben supports the past butchery of those thousands of Israelis murdered before June 1967.

            Reply to Comment
    2. Ben

      ‘The report emphasizes that the most significant assistance comes from the government itself, which sends a clear message to the settlers: “You may establish facts on the ground illegally, and we will expunge your crimes.” Most of the time, the Israeli authorities remain passive and simply refuse to enforce the law, thereby turning a blind eye to the everyday acts of official bodies.’

      Yup. It’s organized crime. With all the brutality and all the levels of corruption that implies.

      “Conflicts do not last forever.”

      And neither do gangster organizations and rogue entities that try to cruelly “manage” conflicts endlessly.

      Reply to Comment
      • itshak Gordine

        These territories are part of the historical, national and religious heritage of the Jewish people. They were annexed by the Hashemite Kingdom in 1951. They were taken over by the Jewish state after the Arab aggression of 1967. There has never been a “Palestinian” state in history.

        Reply to Comment
        • Ben

          All of these formulaic right wing slogans are a way of ignoring the fact that there are people in the land, a whole other people, human beings, millions of them, every bit as or in most cases far more indigenous and native to the land than the settlers there, and with every bit as much “heritage,” who are under brutal military rule and dispossession by an invading army because that army is protecting the constant thievery of fanatic settlers who, like you, refuse to acknowledge these facts. This is indeed organized crime. Undeniably.

          Reply to Comment
        • Amir

          What is the jewish heritage of Ramallah, Tulkarem, Jenin, Naplouse, Beit Jala, Bethlehem, Jericho, Qalqilya, Yatta, Nabi Saleh etc?

          What is the jewish heritage during the Jund of Filastin, the Umeyyads, Abbassids, Fatimids, and all other Arab and non Arab dynasties.

          Do you claim all the mosques and churches built by Muslims and Christians? Do you claim the Arabic language? Do you claim the Palestinian cuisine? The Palestinian dabke? Do you claim the Palestinian thob?

          Reply to Comment
          • itshak Gordine

            Ramallah, Sichem (Naplouse), Jericho, etc are under the control of the “Palestinian” authority. Christian and Muslims can pray in peace as do Jews. The Jewish holy places which are under the contral of the “Palestinian” authority are forbidden to Jews. All the territories managed by Ramallah are forbidden to Jews.No one forbids anyone to cook, pray, etc. Many people have taken advantage of the Jewish people’s martyrdom to ruin the land of Israel. Now the Jewish people are coming back and this land is shining again. All the rest is just gossip. In this period of Rosh Hashanah, we look to the future with optimism by the grace of the Almighty.

            Reply to Comment
          • Amir

            There is nothing in earth called “the land of israel” or “jewish land” it’s like narnia or tatooine planet.

            Area A is forbidden by your government. it is written in the boards “it is against the israeli law”

            The PA doesn’t control anything

            Reply to Comment
          • itshak Gordine

            No, Amir, the only fancy thing is the “Palestinian” people and the state of “Palestine”. It never existed and it will never exist. And since it’s an artificial thing, it does not work ..

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            A Jewish jihadi telling us of Jewish shahids. And appropriating wholesale Palestinian Arab cultural sites as well. Truly this Mizrahi has come home to his Arab roots. Now all he has to do is let go, let go of his bellicose confusions, tell Benzti Gopstein where to go, and have his Levyite sons marry intertribal damsels in hot mini-skirts (his apparent fixation) and his membership in the Hamas is almost complete. Verily, the Jewish jihadi connoisseur of mini-skirts
            complains that the Jewish prison wardens are not allowed to enter the Arab prisoners’ quarters. The pity! His ecumenical multiculturalsexual soul is yearning to unite with them! The One State Paradise is nigh!

            Reply to Comment
          • amir

            Palestinian people do exist. You like it or not. Bouss 2idi

            Reply to Comment
          • Lewis from Afula

            Please tell us more about this “country”. Specifically:
            1. Where is their capital ?
            2. Who wrote their constitution?
            3. What was their native currency ?
            4. Who was their 1st King ?
            5. Where was his Royal Palace?

            Your difficulty of answering these simple questions is proof of this nation’s artificiality.

            Reply to Comment
    3. Lewis from Afula

      Yes, please tell me more about this “country”.
      1. Where was its Capital ?
      2. Who wrote its Constitution ?
      3. What was its native Currency called ?
      4. Who was its 1st King ?
      5. Where was his Palace ?

      Reply to Comment