Gantz tells Rebel Yamina MK that Illegal Outpost Authorization Could take Months
According to a report on Thursday, Idit Silman was informed by Benny Gantz that authorizing an illegal outpost on the West Bank retroactively could take a few months. Silman as well as other members of the Knesset in favor of settlement did not consider this good news. This is because they have already been waiting for months for announcing a return to the hilltop community of Evyatar in the northern West Bank. Last July, dozens of squatters had made an agreement with the government to leave the community. The Defense Minister informed the rebel Yamina MK that he was going to move ahead with land seizure, but legal objections could be filed against the move by the opposition within 45 days.
He added that settlers will only be permitted to return to the numerous mobile homes they have set up at the site after this time period has elapsed and that an extension was also possible. Silman was apparently dissatisfied with the timeframe and was highly discouraged when she left the meeting. Reports said that Gantz also informed her of demolishing construction done at the Homesh outpost, which had unnerved the MK further. In 2005, the Gaza Disengagement had seen four settlements in the West Bank evacuated and Homesh was one of them.
Citizens are not permitted to return to the razed settlements under Israeli law, but this has not been an obstacle for ultra-nationalists who seem to have been using the site for operating a religious seminary illegally for 15 years. In fact, they have even gotten periodic protection from the Israeli Defense Force (IDF). Due to their presence, Palestinians have been unable to farm their land, even though a number of court orders have been issued for providing access. Last December, Homesh had made headlines when a terror shooting saw one of the students killed while returning home.
After the attack, settlers have been pushing for the legalization of the yeshiva by the government. Some believed that they could convince Gantz otherwise, but he told Silman that he would not allow Israeli law to be violated. To him, the decision is when to demolish the Homesh yeshiva, not if. However, Gantz did inform Silman that the coming weeks would see the Defense Ministry body convene for authorizing a number of settlement projects, as early as the first week of May. The High Planning Subcommittee of the Civil Administration had had a meeting last October in which 3,000 settlement homes had gotten the greenlight.
The Biden administration had harshly criticized the approvals and called them inconsistent with efforts of restoring calm and lowering tensions. Subsequently, the panel has not been permitted to convene by the Defense Minister, even though it meets quarterly. But, longer gaps have occurred between meetings, even when Benjamin Netanyahu was in office. The meeting between Gantz and Silman had been scheduled before the former resigned from the coalition, which eliminated their razor-thin majority in the Knesset. Many coalition officials believe that Gantz stance on settlement issues had frustrated the Yamina MK into resigning.