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Israel Legalizes West Bank Outpost After Resident Killed

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Will Racke Immigration and Foreign Policy Reporter

Israel says it will grant legal status to an outpost deep inside the West Bank in response to the murder of one of its residents last month.

The decision to retroactively approve the 50-family village of Havat Gilad will “allow the continuation of normal life there,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during a cabinet meeting on Sunday, according to Reuters.

Rabbi Raziel Shevah, a 35-year-old father of six, was shot and killed by Palestinian gunmen near his Havat Gilad residence in January. The community of a few hundred Israelis is located about 15 miles west of the armistice line between Israel and the West Bank, which Israel captured in a 1967 war.

Authorizations of West Bank outposts are rare and often cause controversy in the international community, which largely considers them to be illegal expropriation of land set aside for a future Palestinian state. Netanyahu said Sunday the legalization of Havat Gilad was necessary to bring Shevach’s killer to justice and to facilitate “orderly life” in the small community.

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Palestinians accused the Israeli government of exploiting the killing to justify more settlement building.

“Netanyahu is trying to make facts on ground,” said Wasel Abu Youssef, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s executive committee, according to the Jerusalem Post. “All settlements in the West Bank, including in Jerusalem, are illegal.”

In nine years with Netanyahu as the head of government, the cabinet has voted only once to convert unapproved outposts into officially recognized settlements, according to the Jerusalem Post. In 2012, it authorized three outposts as settlements: Bruchin, Rehalim and Santana.

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