Hadash Slam Israeli Cabinet Move to Legalize Settlements

A decision by far-right Israeli government to legalize five occupied West Bank settlements drew widespread criticism on Friday, June 28, from Hadash and the Palestinian Authority (PA), which accused Israel of continuing a policy of “genocide” against the Palestinian people. The statements came after the security cabinet, at the behest of racist Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, announced the steps and a series of punitive moves against the PA.

Smotrich, who also heads the Defense Ministry’s civilian administration, said the move was in response to the PA’s international lawsuits against Israel and its “push for unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state,” referring to the recent decisions of Spain, Norway, Ireland, Armenia and Slovenia to recognize Palestine. The outposts set to be legalized are Evyatar in the northern West Bank, Sde Efraim and Givat Asaf in the central West Bank, and Heletz and Adorayim in the occupied territories south. The cabinet also okayed the publication of tenders for thousands more homes in settlements, according to Smotrich’s statement.

MK Ofer Cassif during a demonstration at Kaplan Street in Tel-Aviv against the war in Gaza and occupation of the Palestinian territories, May 25, 2024 (Photo: Zo Haderech)

Smotrich, himself a settler from the Kedumin settlement in the northern West Bank — whose own home was built on private Palestinian land — was recorded last week as saying that the government was plotting a “mega-dramatic” plan to exert still greater settlers’ control over the West Bank. On Sunday, June 9, 2024, an internal conference of the Religious Zionism Party with the participation of Ministers Smotrich and Strook, members of Knesset from the party, and an audience of approximately 100 participants. A recording of the conference has been acquired by Peace Now. During the conference, Smotrich reported on a series of administrative moves by the government that have led to the de facto annexation of the West Bank and the transfer of management of all settlements matters from the hands of the military to civilian officials, a clear breach of international law.

Smotrich said: “We wanted that it would be easier to swallow in the political and legal context, so that people wouldn’t say that we are now doing an annexation, and sovereignty, etc., so we did not change the legal status of the land. The military commander is still the sovereign.” On the Prime Minister’s support for the illegal agricultural outposts and the government’s efforts to reduce the Palestinian presence in the Area C, Smotrich said “He is fully with us.”

Communist lawmaker Ofer Cassif (Hadash-Ta’al) slammed the decision. “No front will satisfy the pyromaniacs’ government’s bloodlust,” Cassif wrote on X. “More violence, more abandonment, more killing, more theft, more occupation.” Wasel Abu Youssef, a member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), said the settlements are “illegal colonies that violate all international resolutions.” “The decisions by the occupation government aim to pursue the war of genocide against our Palestinian people,” he told Reuters, adding that the PLO and the PA would continue pressing for Israel to be taken before international courts and punished for “crimes against our people, and in particular in the Gaza Strip.”

More on the annexation agenda of the Israeli government:

Related: https://maki.org.il/en/?p=31941