Factsheet: "Unauthorized" Settlement Outposts

10 June 2003


“If we are evacuated, we’ll return the night after and establish 10 new outposts.” - Settler spokesman Yehoshua Mor-Yosef[1]

In an effort to demonstrate compliance with the Road Map, the Israeli government has started to dismantle 15 of what it calls “unauthorized” settlement outposts in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

1. THE DISMANTLEMENT IS NOT CONSISTENT WITH ISRAEL’S ROAD MAP OBLIGATIONS

Phase I of the Road Map requires that Israel “immediately dismantles settlement outposts erected since March 2001.” The word “unauthorized” does not appear in the Road Map text and its unilateral insertion by Israel is intended to allow Israel to remove only those settlement outposts that it, in its sole discretion, deems “unauthorized”. Peace Now estimates that there are 62 settlement outposts erected since March 2001. US officials estimate as many as 100 such outposts.[2]

There are more than 160 illegal settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, housing more than 400,000 settlers (nearly half of whom reside in Occupied East Jerusalem).

2. THE DISMANTLED OUTPOSTS ARE UNINHABITEDDUMMYOUTPOSTS

Many of the outposts that are actually removed are in fact uninhabited or “dummy outposts” - empty outposts erected by the settler movement to use as a tool for negotiations or public relations. Only four of the 15 outposts Israel has slated for dismantlement are inhabited.[3] Former Israeli Knesset Member Zvi Hendel reaffirmed the use of “dummy outposts” in an interview on Settlers Radio Channel, “Arutz Sheva.” He explained how settlers purchased caravans from the Jewish Agency and how other settlements contributed caravans for these dummy outposts.[4] Peace Now has confirmed this practice, affirming that all eleven outposts that were removed by PM Sharon under his former government were “dummy” outposts each consisting of no more than one or two uninhabited containers.[5]

3. THE CREATED CATEGORY OFUNAUTHORIZEDSETTLEMENTS IS USED TO ACTUALLY FURTHER SETTLEMENT EXPANSION

Historically, Israeli governments have used the removal of “unauthorized” settlements to legitimize other settlements in a “trade-off” with settler groups. The Israeli government agrees to settler demands to authorize planned settlement expansion and to “authorize” some “unauthorized” outposts in exchange for settler agreement that some “unauthorized” outposts will be removed. For example, Prime Minister Barak’s government, instead of dismantling 42 “unauthorized outposts”, eventually agreed to “deal with” eleven, in exchange for authorizing the master plan for the Itimar settlement.[6] Of the eleven PM Barak “dealt with”, four were uninhabited and four others were eventually authorized as “new neighborhoods” of nearby settlements.[7] Similarly, PM Sharon is expected to remove only a fraction of the outposts established after March 2001, while retroactively deeming the remainder “authorized”.

4. THERE IS NO SUCH THING ASAUTHORIZEDSETTLEMENTS

All settlements are illegal under international law.

The Fourth Geneva Convention expressly prohibits an Occupying Power from deporting or transferring parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.[8] According to the Commentary of the Fourth Geneva Convention, the prohibition on the establishment of settlements is “intended to prevent a practice adopted during the Second World War by certain Powers, which transferred portions of their own population to occupied territory for political and racial reasons or in order, as they claimed, to colonize those territories. Such transfers worsened the economic situation of the native population and endangered their separate existence as a race.”

In addition, Israeli settlements violate United Nations Security Council Resolutions, including UNSCR 452 (1979) calling upon “the Government and people of Israel to cease, on an urgent basis, the establishment, construction and planning of settlements in the Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem.” This resolution has never been enforced.

Endnotes

[1] Quoted in First Posts of Settlers Torn Down by Israelis, International Herald Tribune, June 10, 2003 at 6.

[2] Ibid., at 1.

[3] Nadav Shragai, IDF Dismantles 10 Outposts; Settlers Vow to Return, Ha’aretz Online, June 10, 2003

[4] MK Hendel says all illegal outposts evacuated ‘were fabricated’, Ha’aretz, July 18, 2002.

[5] Interview with Dror Etkes, Peace Now Settlement Watch Coordinator, June 10, 2003.

[6] Foundation for Middle East Peace (FMEP), Optical Illusion at Havat Ma’on, Report on Israeli Settlement in the Occupied Territories, volume 10, Jan.-Feb. 2000, www.fmep.org/reports/2000/v10n1.html

[7] Ibid.

[8] Article 49.