Israel legalizes three West Bank settlement outposts

Israeli has legalized the status of three Jewish settlement outposts in the West Bank.

According to a statement from the office of Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the decision was taking at a ministerial committee meeting late on Monday, AFP says.

It relates to the outposts of Bruchin, Rechelim and Sansana, which were established in the 1990s.

NPR explains that Israel's highest court has already ruled that the Jewish settler outpost of Ulpana in the West Bank was built on privately-owned Palestinian land and would have to be dismantled by May 1.

The special committee which has decided to legalize the three outposts was set up by Netanyahu as part of efforts to keep the outpost from being torn down.

No decision has yet been reached on the Ulpana outpost, the Jerusalem Post says.

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The newspaper quotes government officials as saying that the decision to formalize the status of Bruchin, Rechelim and Sansana "did not change the reality on the ground,” and did not "establish new settlements or expand existing settlements."

The international community regards all settlements built on occupied Palestinian land to be illegal, Ma'an News explains, while the Israel government makes a distinction between about 100 state-sponsored settlements and dozens of unauthorized outposts.

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Meanwhile, the Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now accused the Israeli government of establishing new settlements in a deceitful way.

“The Israeli government is proving its true policy, that instead of going to peace it is building new settlements,” spokeswoman Hagit Ofran told AFP.