By Times of Israel—
After the government approved almost 800 new housing units in West Bank settlements this week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday tried to also legalize six unrecognized outposts, but was thwarted by Defense Minister Benny Gantz.
The proposal came a day before the inauguration of US President-elect Joe Biden, potentially further complicating the start of Jerusalem’s relations with the new administration. The approval of the settler homes has received widespread international attention and been condemned by the Palestinians, the European Union and the UN, among others.
Tuesday’s cabinet meeting had been scheduled to only discuss the coronavirus crisis and the extension of a nationwide lockdown, but on Tuesday morning Netanyahu tried to put on the agenda a proposal that would include the recognition of the communities of Avigayil, Asael, Kedem Arava, Metzoke Deragot, Ovnat (currently considered a neighborhood of Mitzpeh Shalem) and Tel Tzion, which are deemed illegal under current Israeli law, according to ministers in Gantz’s Blue and White party.
Gantz swiftly moved to strike the item from the agenda, saying in a statement that “in the cabinet meeting, no diplomatically irresponsible proposal will be raised at such a sensitive time.”
Last month, the Knesset advanced a controversial bill that, if passed into law, would legalize dozens of unrecognized outposts. It would also formally allow them to be connected to electricity and water supplies.
The so-called “Outposts Law,” initiated by hard-right Yamina MK Bezalel Smotrich, passed 59-39 in its preliminary reading in the main chamber of the Knesset and was sent to a committee before its return to the plenum for approval in three more votes. Continue Reading….