World Zionist Organization to spend $8.5m on legalizing West Bank outposts

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Money to spend on connecting outposts to the power grid and installing security cameras

The World Zionist Organization’s Settlements Division plans to invest $8.5 million of Israeli public funds to connect dozens of unauthorized West Bank outposts to the power grid before legalizing them as settlements.

The Yamina party received the money from the coalition’s funding over the past year under the policy established by former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who also served as minister for settlement affairs, Ha’aretz reported. The Settlement Division, which acts as an operational arm of the Israeli government, has prepared a work plan for 2022 on which the public could comment until July 12.

Apart from connecting outposts to the power grid, funding is expected to go towards installing security cameras. A source in the Settlement Division said Israel’s Defense Ministry will decide on security upgrades at each outpost. New infrastructure must also be approved by the civil administration.

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Bennett issued a policy statement in May directing the Settlement Division to meet “the humanitarian and security needs of young settlements and to promote their legalization in accordance with all laws.”

While the legalization of many outposts faces complications due to the route that leads them through private Palestinian land, the Bennett-led coalition government has legalized three outposts over the past year in as neighborhoods of existing settlements.

Earlier in April, Israel’s attorney general’s office approved a bill that allows illegal Jewish outposts in the West Bank to be connected to the power grid. According to the legal opinion of Deputy Attorney General Carmit Yulis, outposts that must be connected to power have what the government considers a “regulatory horizon”, meaning they can be made legal.

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