Israeli settlers have constructed 20 new homes on privately owned Palestinian land in an illegal outpost known as Ulpana, in Beit El settlement northeast of Ramallah, Israeli daily Haaretz reported on Thursday.The Israeli government continues to fail to act to stop construction and expansion of settlements. The prefabricated permanent homes were built on lands officially recognized by Israel to be owned by Palestinians, reported Haaretz.
The Israeli army fears that this situation could cause a new crisis in the Israeli cabinet, and lead to confrontation with the settlers similar to that over the outposts of Migron and Givat Assaf, which were also built on private Palestinian lands.
Despite orders from the Civil Administration of the Israeli Defence Ministry issued in 2011 to stop construction in the Miztpeh Cramim outpost, homes have been completed and are now occupied by Israeli settlers, reported Haaretz.
The settlers ignored the order; the Israeli army ignored the ongoing construction, and the defence establishment took no positive action to stop the construction.
A source at the Ministry of Defence told Haaretz that “it is very difficult to play legal tricks that would allow the settlers to stay”, as the land in question is officially recognized by Israel to be privately owned Palestinian land.
The settlement was first established in 1999, and was built only 700 meters away from Kochav Hashahar settlement. It is one of the settlements defined as illegal in an official report by the Sasson committee, headed by attorney Talia Sasson in 2005, as its buildings were constructed on Palestinian lands that belong to residents of Dir Jarir and Kafr Malek, near Ramallah in the central West Bank.
In 2011, after the Civil Administration ordered the Israeli settlers to stop construction, the local council filed a petition to the Israeli High Court asking for the settlers to be removed.
Talking to Haaretz, Israeli military officials stated that once a hearing is underway, no further action – including construction work – can be taken until the court delivers its final verdict.
However on the ground, no action is taken even to stop construction without a direct ruling from the High Court in order to avoid confrontation with the settler movement.
Peace Now director, Dror Etkes, stated that the new construction in this outpost is just one of hundreds of similar cases, and added that “the settlers became part of the DNA of Israel’s Army and its Civil Administration.
“Different Israeli government coalitions never learned any lesson from previous mistakes and failures”, Etkes continued. “They just continue to ignore their responsibility of protecting privately owned Palestinian property”.
United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 clearly asserts that the “…occupying power cannot move segments of its own population to parts of the land it occupies”. The Fourth Geneva Convention, to which Israel is a signatory, also reiterates the same principle. Under this premise, all settlements, including those officially built by consecutive Israeli governments, are illegal as they are located in the occupied Palestinian territories.