The Israeli government has reportedly legalized three outposts in settlements and approved the expansion of existing settlements with thousands of additional housing units in the occupied West Bank, according to a non-governmental organization. The Israeli organization Peace Now stated that the government authority responsible for settlement construction legalized the unauthorized outposts in Mahane Gadi, Givat Han, and Kedem Arava on Wednesday and Thursday. Additionally, the green light was given for 5295 additional housing units in existing settlements.

Peace Now strongly condemned the move. The recent approvals underscore the „ongoing annexation in the West Bank,“ which will cause „irreversible damage.“ „This annexation-oriented government dangerously undermines the security and future of Israelis and Palestinians,“ it added. „The costs of this recklessness will be borne by future generations. We must bring down this government before it’s too late.“

Sharp criticism from Norway
Internationally, the move has also faced criticism. Norway’s Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide strongly condemned the decision and urged the Israeli government to reconsider. From the Norwegian perspective, the action is „absolutely unacceptable.“ Oslo recently recognized Palestine as a state and is a vocal advocate for the two-state solution.

Israel took control of the West Bank in the Six-Day War in 1967 and occupied it. The Oslo Accords of 1993 granted Palestinians autonomous administration in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In 2005, Israel completely withdrew from the Gaza Strip. However, despite international protests, Israel has built dozens of settlements in the West Bank over the past decades, classified as illegal under international law by the UN. Currently, alongside around three million Palestinians, more than 490,000 Israelis live in the West Bank.

In recent years, dozens of outposts have been established adjacent to Israeli government-approved settlements. These outposts consist of tents and prefabricated houses, some of which are connected to electricity and water supply.

Violence in the West Bank has escalated since the start of the war between Israel and the Islamist Palestinian organization Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Since the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7 of last year, at least 561 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli soldiers or settlers in the West Bank, according to Palestinian reports. Israeli sources claim that at least 16 Israelis, including soldiers, have been killed in Palestinian attacks.

The situation in the West Bank remains tense, with ongoing settlement expansions and unauthorized outposts being legalized by the Israeli government. The international community continues to express concern over the impact of these actions on the prospects for peace and a two-state solution in the region. Efforts to bring about a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict face significant challenges amid the continued expansion of settlements in the West Bank.