Israel quietly legalizes illegal West Bank settlement
A Palestinian boy stands in a flooded area adjacent to Israel's controversial separation barrier near the West Bank city of Qalqilya (AFP PHOTO/JAAFAR ASHTIYEH)
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An unauthorized Jewish settlement, south of the Palestinian city of Nablus, has been quietly legalized by Israel, according to settlement watchdog NGO, Peace Now.
The Nofel Nehemia outpost is the tenth to be "legalized" under Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's watch, during his four-year stint at the top. Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, said last month that he would be unable to restart peace talks with Israel until settlement building in the West Bank stopped.
"Nofei Nehemia is an outpost established after March 2001, and under the roadmap Israel was supposed to remove it," Hagit Ofran of Peace Now, told AFP on Wednesday.
The move is a direct contravention of Israel's own commitments to the Middle East peace process, which stipulates that the Jewish state must freeze settlement building.
However, the Israeli military claimed that the new outpost is simply a continuation of the authorized Jewish village of Rechelim.
"For the Israeli authorities, Nofei Nehemia is an integral part of Rechelim, one settlement only," their spokesman told AFP.
Under international law, all Israeli outposts in the West Bank are considered illegal.
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