An illegal settlement outpost established on stolen Palestinian land in 2001 by individual Israelis with no government sanction has been given legal status by the Israeli government, after Israeli authorities agreed to give in to the settlers demand of recognition, and petitioned the Israeli High Court on behalf of the settlers.Israeli sources report that this is the first time that an illegal outpost established without Israeli government support has been given such recognition.

Although all Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are considered illegal under international law, the Israeli government considers many of the 300 settlements to be ‘legal’ under Israeli law, and as such, provides these ‘legal’ settlements with water, electricity, roads and other infrastructure.

On Saturday, the Israeli government announced that it will provide such recognition to the settlement of Ramat Gilad, established on the land of Palestinians from Kafr Laqif village as an expansion of the settlement of Karnei Shomron.

The settlement was established in 2001 by the father of Gilad Zar, an Israeli security officer killed by Palestinian fighters in 2001. Although the elder Zar claims to have purchased the land from individual Palestinians, the Palestinian owners of the land in question have challenged that claim.

According to the Israeli group Peace Now, the outpost of Ramat Gilad consists of 5 families, approx. 15 persons, 9 caravans; 1 caravan with an attached wall and an awning + four foundations for placing caravans; 2 containers; 1 tin shed; 2 generators; 2 fuel tanks; 2 guard towers; perimeter lighting; 1 water tank, and a road laid from the Neve Menachem road. It seems that at least a section of the road crosses private Palestinian land.

After negotiating with an Israeli cabinet Minister, the settlers have created a new precedent in Israeli policy with the government agreeing to their demand of recognition. The only condition set by the Israeli government is that the settlers move nine trailers a few dozen meters from their current location.

The Israeli cabinet asked the Israeli High Court to delay action on a decision that structures in the illegal outpost be demolished, saying that the private negotiations between a Cabinet Minister and the settlers should take precedence over the court decision on the case.