Emboldened by a new law legalizing settler outposts on private Palestinian land in the West Bank, Israeli far-right settlers are setting up a second illegal outpost near the city of Ramallah, Palestinian news agency Ma’an reported Tuesday.
Activist and local resident Kathem Hajj told the agency that Israeli settlers have set up caravans in the Tabbun area, where they have “laced barbed wire around the caravans in the new outpost, while opening a road in order to facilitate reaching the outpost from a nearby settler bypass road,” the agency cited Hajj as saying.
This is the second reported outpost to be built after the approval of the “Regularization Law” last month which states that any structure built in the West Bank “in good faith,” meaning without the knowledge that the land was privately owned by Palestinians, could be officially recognized by Israel.
Israeli and Palestinian rights groups have called the law a legalization of “theft” as it allows Israel for the first time to confiscate land from its Palestinian owners while providing them with some form of compensation.
There are currently 16 other settler outposts and local media have reported that the Israeli government plans to legalize at least seven of them.
While both are illegal under international law, Jewish settler outposts are different than traditional settlements in that they are not formally recognized by the Israeli government and are built on privately-owned Palestinian land, rather than Israeli-occupied Palestinian land in the case of government-sanctioned settlements, which are already widespread across the West Bank.
Settlers building those outposts belong to highly-influential, far-right factions in Israel that see the West Bank as part of the historic Jewish land of Israel and not one that belongs to Palestinians who have lived there for centuries. These factions have also been increasingly critical of the Israeli state as they see it reluctant to share their ideas.
In recent years far-right actors in Israel have gained significant influence and power within the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, pushing for increasingly anti-Arab and anti-Palestinian policies, rejecting the two-state solution and calling for the annexation of the West Bank as part of the Jewish state.
The issue of outposts came into public attention last year after the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that 330 settlers in Amona outpost must leave because it was built on private land.
Some speculate that the new law might end up being stuck down as it violates Israeli Supreme Court rules on property rights. Also, Israel's attorney general has said the law is unconstitutional and that he will not defend it in front of the Supreme Court.