US opposes Israeli plan to legalise outposts

The US has said it opposes "any effort to legalise" illegal settlement outposts on Palestinian land, after the Israeli government set up a panel to explore ways to do so.

Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, announced on Tuesday the establishment of a new committee charged with finding ways to legalise settlement outposts built on private Palestinian land.

In a statement on Wednesday, the US state department said: "We oppose any effort to legalise settlement outposts, which is unhelpful to our peace efforts and would contradict Israeli commitments and obligations."

At a news briefing on Tuesday, the state department said: "The United States has a clear policy; we do not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity."

Outposts are built on hilltops overlooking Palestinian towns and villages by Israeli settlers without government approval, and in direct contravention of international law.

The sizes of these outposts vary between just a few trailers, to a collection of mobile homes. Many are built as extensions to already established settlements, which are illegal under international law.

The decision to set up a task force was taken after heavy pressure from the settler lobby and right-wing activists following the demolition in early September of three structures in the Migron outpost near Ramallah.

The state departm... >>>

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