Under Likud, illegal outposts received NIS 70 million

Akiva Eldar

Haaretz

Sivan 1, 5765

The Housing Ministry allocated at least NIS 70 million to build infrastructure and erect public structures in 82 illegal outposts in the West Bank during the prime ministerial terms of Benjamin Netanyahu (1996-1999) and Ariel Sharon (2001-2004), Haaretz has learned from an appendix to attorney Talia Sasson's report on the outposts.

The document also shows that most of the illegal outposts reported by Sasson were established on privately owned Palestinian land.

According to the Sasson report's appendix, 15 of the outposts are located entirely on private land; 39 are partially on private land and partially on state-owned land, or on land whose ownership rights are in question; and 26 lie entirely on state-owned land. Sasson writes in the appendix that an outpost built even partially on privately owned Palestinian land cannot retroactively receive legal status.

As a result, 54 of the 87 outposts reviewed - out of a total of 105 outposts - are "irreparable," the appendix concludes.

The figures in the appendix, correct for June 2004, reveal that the funds were allocated to 753 families and a few dozen bachelors and students who settled in 61 illegal outposts during Netanyahu's term in office, and another 600 individuals who settled in outposts that were established during Sharon's period as prime minister and are slated for immediate evacuation according to the road map peace plan.

The appendix also reports that five outposts that were set up during Yitzhak Rabin's term as prime minister received more than NIS 10 million in funding. Sasson writes that in addition to the 87 outposts about which she managed to accumulate data, there are another 18 outposts about which no clear figures exist.

The sums noted in the appendix do not include tens of millions of shekels allocated to the outposts by the Defense Ministry, the Jewish Agency Settlement Division, regional councils and donors from Israel and abroad. The Jewish Agency did not furnish data on the funds it invested in the outposts and said only that it funded initial encampments, planning, production means and generators.

The Housing Ministry allocated the largest sum - NIS 5.2 million for infrastructure and NIS 750,000 for public structures - to the Nof Harim outpost that was set up in 1995 when Labor MK Benjamin Ben-Eliezer held the position of housing minister. The outpost was established in part on privately owned Palestinian land - without the approval of the cabinet, the defense minister or planning and building authorities.

The same year saw the unauthorized establishment, also on private Palestinian land, of two outposts in the Ofra-Beit El area - Pisgat Yaakov and Emunah. In the initial years after their establishment, these two outposts received funding to the tune of more than NIS 6 million, half of which came from the Housing Ministry. The Horsha outpost, set up that same year on land whose ownership has yet to be determined, received NIS 1.56 million from the Housing Ministry.

Sasson writes that the Migron outpost, set up in May 2001 and slated last year for evacuation, lies entirely on land belonging to the adjacent Palestinian villages of Ein Yabrud and Burka. The Housing Ministry spent more than NIS 3.5 million on infrastructure and NIS 800,000 on public buildings for Migron.

The Israel Electric Corporation said it connected Migron to the electricity grid after it received misleading information from the Civil Administration on the legal status of the outpost. The Mekorot national water utility reported that the Matte Binyamin Regional Council had requested the installation of the water system at the site.

According to a Peace Now report, some 1,834 dunams, or 457 acres, of built-up area or area-under-development were added to settlements in 2004. The same year saw the publication of government tenders for the construction of 962 housing units on settlements. Building sites in 21 settlements lie outside the existing built-up areas of the communities.