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Israel to legalize nine communities in response to Jerusalem terror attack

A spokesperson for Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas condemned the decision as a “provocation” that would lead to further escalation.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads a Cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on Feb. 12, 2023. Photo by Amit Shabi/POOL.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads a Cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on Feb. 12, 2023. Photo by Amit Shabi/POOL.

Israel’s Security Cabinet on Sunday unanimously decided to legalize nine communities in Judea and Samaria, in response to Friday’s deadly terrorist attack in Jerusalem.

The communities to be authorized are Avigil, Bet Hogla, Givat Harel/Haroeh, Givat Arnon, Mitzpe Yehuda, Malachei Hashalom, Ashael, Sde Boaz and Shaharit.

To fully legalize the outposts, the government will have to prove that they were established on state land, and the High Court of Justice is liable to object to the move, resulting in a legal process that could take years.

Nevertheless, a spokesperson for Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas condemned the decision as a “provocation” that would lead to further escalation, according to the official Palestinian Wafa news agency.

P.A. Deputy Prime Minister Nabil Abu Rudaneih stressed that there would be no security and stability in the region unless a Palestinian state was established with the eastern part of Jerusalem as its capital.

The Security Cabinet also said that the Civil Administration Higher Planning Committee, the Defense Ministry body responsible for authorizing new construction in Judea and Samaria, would be convened in the coming days to approve new residential units in other existing communities beyond the Green Line.

For his part, Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who also holds the post of minister in the Defense Ministry and has been tasked by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with overseeing the Civil Administration, announced on Sunday that he would soon advance plans to construct some additional 10,000 homes in Judea and Samaria.

The Security Cabinet furthermore approved a series of additional counter-terrorism measures, including reinforcing Israel Police and Border Police units in Jerusalem, and expanding operations against inciters and supporters of terrorism.

Netanyahu emphasized that security forces would take focused action against terrorists and that there would be no collective punishment.

Netanyahu earlier Sunday said that Israel’s governing coalition would this week pass legislation to strip the citizenship of terrorists and expel them from the country.

The prime minister’s declaration comes after a terrorist attack in Jerusalem’s Ramot neighborhood that claimed the lives of Yaakov Israel Paley, 6, his brother, Asher Menachem Paley, 8, and 20-year-old Alter Shlomo Lederman. Three others were injured in the attack.

Meanwhile, the Ministerial Committee for Legislation voted on Sunday to provide government backing for a bill that would rescind the 2005 Disengagement Law for northern Samaria.

The Disengagement Law led to the destruction and evacuation of four Jewish communities in northern Samaria—Sa-Nur, Homesh, Ganim and Kadim—and 21 in the Gaza Strip.

The proposed law would restore freedom of movement to Israelis in the four northern communities, which were razed.

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