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«Israel’s» «Creeping Annexation» of W Bank Continues

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Local Editor

There is much talk these days about the "Israeli" entity's "creeping annexation" of the occupied West Bank, from both critics and proponents alike.

"Israeli" settlement

Critics say "Israeli" Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government has been advancing various laws designed to prepare the ground for the entity to annex portions of the occupied territory.

The Knesset passed legislation on February 12 that applies "Israeli" law to settler academic institutions in the occupied West Bank, such as Ariel University, founded in an "Israeli" settlement of the same name near the Palestinian town of Salfit.

Simultaneously, the justice ministry is advancing a law that would expand the jurisdiction of "Israeli" courts over Area C, which comprises 60 percent of the occupied West Bank.

On the ground, however, there is a familiar story, one just as important as the Knesset maneuvers and legal initiatives - and one without which "creeping annexation" would not even be possible.

While there are 132 official settlements in the West Bank - not including occupied East al-Quds [Jerusalem] - there are some 100 additional, technically unauthorized, settlement outposts.

Increasingly, these "unauthorized" outposts are being "legalized".

On January 31, the "Israeli" government approved the retroactive legalization of the "Havat Gilad" settlement outpost near Nablus, which will now become an official settlement.

The outpost was first established in 2002 and is found roughly a kilometer from the "Kedumim" settlement.

The outpost expanded, over the years, on privately-owned Palestinian land, and now boasts some 75 buildings, mostly residential.

The expansion took place with the full knowledge of "Israeli" authorities, "Israeli" group B'Tselem noted.

The story of "Havat Gilad" is not unusual. As B'Tselem observed, this method has been applied across the West Bank, "enabling the state to establish and expand dozens of settlements while claiming internationally that it is not".

Outposts become "legalized" settlements, and settlements expand and become so-called blocs - areas that the entity then insists must be retained in any peace deal with the Palestinians.

Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team

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