Jerusalem24 – The Israeli government has allocated an amount of NIS 29.5 million to connect unofficial outposts in the occupied West Bank to the electricity network and structural maps in preparation for their legalization, according to Israeli daily Haaretz.
The sum was allocated by the department of settlement affairs, which is affiliated with the Zionist Histadrut (an executive arm of the government). The budget was obtained by the Yamina party under the former coalition agreement, which was approved by former prime minister and former Yamina president, Naftali Bennett, who currently is in charge of the settlement portfolio.
As of 2019, there were 131 Jewish Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem, and around 110 smaller outposts. Outposts, which can be as small as one or two tents or barracks, are illegal even under Israeli law, though they are frequently retroactively legalized.
According to Arab48, financing the outposts is a new clause in the settlement department’s work plan for the current year. Connecting the outposts to electricity and legitimizing them is conditional on approval at the political level, specifically the approval of Minister of Defense Benny Gantz.
However, Haaretz quoted an Israeli security source as saying he does not expect approval to happen soon.
In recent weeks, the settlements department has drawn up maps of dozens of unofficial outposts, with the aim of implementing “security improvements” such as installing cameras or fire-extinguishing vehicles. The security source said that the civil administration of the occupation will work to approve any outpost.
Haaretz quoted sources in the settlements as saying that Yamina pledged several months ago to invest this amount in the outposts, but legal difficulties were initially an obstacle.
In the past, the settlements department supported the establishment of random outposts by granting dozens of loans with the aim of establishing and developing unofficial outposts, including farms and vineyards. In 2019, the Israeli Calcalist newspaper reported that the settlements department had funded projects in these outposts to the tune of more than NIS 2 million.
Arab48 says that in recent years, the so-called “Youth Settlement Forum” has been active in legitimizing unofficial outposts and connecting them to the electricity network, and the Israeli government have come to refer to these outposts as “youth settlements.”