Israeli Supreme Court temporarily halts construction of illegal settlement outpost

Israeli Supreme Court has issued a temporary stop-work order against the construction of an illegal Israeli outpost in the central occupied West bank district of Ramallah, according to Israeli human rights watchdog Peace Now, which submitted the petition against the outpost to the court last month.

Peace Now released a statement on Sunday that the order was issued against the Kerem Reim outpost, which is located in western Ramallah. According to the group, the court’s decision also prohibited the sale or population of the structures in the outpost.

“While the public discourse currently focuses on the government’s decision to establish a new settlement to the Amona evacuees, dozens of permanent structures are being built in an effort to establish a different new settlement west of Ramallah – Kerem Reim,” Peace Now said in a statement, referring to the illegal Amona outpost which was evacuated by Israeli forces earlier this year.

“This is occurring without approved plans or permits, and without any public debate or criticism,” Peace Now said, highlighting the Amana organization, a pro-settlement organization, and the Binyamin Regional Council, which covers 42 Israeli settlements and outposts in the central West Bank, as the main groups responsible for the development of Kerem Reim.

“One of the main reasons behind the flourishing of illegal construction in settlements and outposts is the lack of law enforcement,” Peace Now said, highlighting that “even in the few cases where an investigation did take place, the cases were closed for various reasons.”

Peace Now slammed the Israeli government and law enforcement for its inaction and, more often than not, open support for illegal settlement construction, saying that “those responsible for construction felonies and for fictitious permits know their actions will go unpunished, and thus they continue to create facts on the ground, which are determining Israel’s future.”

“By ignoring illegal construction in settlements and outposts, Israeli governments have allowed a small group of settlers to determine their policy and the future of Israel. While settlers are building illegally throughout the West Bank, law enforcement agencies do not raise a finger in order to stop this phenomenon. We will not let go of the issue until those responsible for illegal activity will be brought to justice,” Peace Now said.

Between 500,000 and 600,000 Israelis live in Jewish-only settlements across occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank in violation of international law, with recent announcements of settlement expansion provoking condemnation from the international community.

The Israeli government in recent months has dramatically expanded its settlement plans in the Palestinian territory through the adoption of pro-settler legislation, approving thousands of new settler units, as well as the first new settlement in the West Bank in 20 years.

Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, passed the outpost “Regularization law” in February, which could grant official Israeli governmental recognition to more than a dozen illegal settlement outposts in the West Bank established on private Palestinian lands. Rights groups have underscored that the law provides a green light for Israeli settlers to escalate the establishment of outposts on Palestinian land.