232 Obstacles to the Peace Process
“93 Israeli Settlement Outposts were erected since the Road Map of 2003”

232 Obstacles to the Peace Process <br> “93 Israeli Settlement Outposts were erected since the Road Map of 2003”

The Israeli Outposts phenomena started back in 1996 by Israeli settlers with the indirect encouragement of the successive Israeli Governments to confiscate more Palestinian lands for the sake of building new settlements and expanding existing ones. Israeli Outposts differ from settlements because they are generally much smaller, and the population is generally more fundamentalist in their religious beliefs; however, outposts serve as possibilities for expansion into larger settlements and for growth areas for existing settlements.  The start of the outpost acceleration began with the late Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon when he called on Israeli settlers to take control of hilltops and mountains in the West Bank Territory before handing them over to Palestinians in final status negotiations. Despite the fact that the outposts weren&#39;t granted the direct legal cover by the successive Israeli Governments, their existence was granted a security and logistical cover.  Specifically, when Ariel Sharon came to power,  he gave the outposts more free rein, which was no surprise at all at that time since he himself called on Israeli settlers in 1998 (when he was the Israeli Minister of Agriculture that time under Netanyahu&#39;s reign) to occupy hilltops so that Israel would not lose them to Palestinians in final status negotiations.  This in turn, has increased the number of Israeli settlements&#39; outposts in the Occupied West Bank. Not forgetting to mention the role of the Israeli Occupation forces in helping Israeli settlers to move and live in such locations by providing them with the infrastructure needed for building such outposts and security to make them stay.

A new US President has come to power with a new policy to signal a new era in the Middle East Peace Process, and an old issue which is the evacuation of the indiscriminate Israeli Settlements&#39; outposts. Since 1996, Israeli settlers erected a total of 232 settlements outposts according to the latest field data available at the Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem (ARIJ). It is worth mentioning that political parties in the West and some in Israel stressed on evacuating these outposts for the damage they cause.

The former U.S. President Bill Clinton who was in power at the beginning of the outposts phenomena stated that the Israeli settlers&#39; activities in the OPT are likely to undermine the peace process between the Palestinians and the Israelis.  President Clinton called on Israel to dismantle and evacuate these outposts and to maintain the status quo in the Occupied West Bank. During Clinton&#39;s term which was associated to the phenomenon of the Israeli outposts between 1996 and January 2001, the Israeli settlers have erected 79 illegal outposts in different parts of the occupied West Bank when the U.S. President stood helpless in front of this growing phenomenon.

In addition, when US President George W. Bush came to power in 2001, he called on Israel to dismantle indiscriminate outposts, stressing on the fact that such a move is essential to maintain the peace process and that their existence threatens the efforts aiming at bringing a last and just peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis.

To resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, US president George W. Bush outlined a plan in June 2002, which was later proposed by the Quartet (the four international entities, the United States of America, the European Union, Russia, and the United Nations), under the name &#39;Road Map Plan&#39;. The plan called on Israel to dismantle all outposts that were erected since year 2001 in addition to freezing all settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. 

At that time, Israel didn&#39;t seem to take the statement of the Quartet and the road map plan seriously as Israeli settlers erected 60 more outposts from 2001 to 2003. More than that, the Israeli Government under Sharon didn&#39;t take any action to prevent Israeli settlers from erecting new outposts.  Instead, Sharon sought to stop any pressure that could be exercised on the Israeli Government and settlers. He called for an investigation of the outposts as to enable the Israeli Government to take the necessary legal procedures with regard to these outposts but he refused to deal with the freezing of settlement construction under the pretext of &#39;meeting the natural growth of the Israeli settlers’ population in Israeli settlement &#39;.  

The work of the investigation committee continued until 2005 when the results of the investigation were announced in what it came to be known as &#39;the &#39;Sasson&#39; report, a former Israeli attorney assigned by Sharon to carry out an independent investigation of the Israeli outposts.

It should be noted out that the Israeli settlers continued erecting outposts in the West Bank Territory in an increasing manner. Statistics carried out by the Applied Research Institute–Jerusalem showed that the number of outposts reached 213 when Sassons&#39;s report was released in 2005, an increase of 74 new outposts that were erected after the quartet called on Israel to dismantle and evacuate outposts in 2003.  

With regard to Sassons&#39;s report, the Israelis tried to maneuver the truth about Israeli outposts as the report indicated 105 outposts were illegally erected by Israeli settlers in the West Bank after the year 2001, without the Government&#39;s permission. The Israelis wanted to give the quartet the good impression that Israel is a State of Law and is not a State of Occupation and even more they tried to tangle the outposts&#39; phenomena by giving some outposts the legal cover and indicating them as &#39;legal&#39;, the thing that hasn&#39;t been mentioned in the report and are 108 Israeli outposts.  

By 2007, and prior to the Annapolis Conference for Peace in November 2007, the number of outposts has risen to 220 in the West Bank. Since that time, Israeli settlers erected 12 more outposts in the West Bank, which in turn, increased the number of outposts to 232 by the time Barack Obama came to power in January 2009.   The following table details the number of outposts that were erected in the West Bank during the periods 1996 – 2001, 2001 – 2003, and 2003 – 2009;

Israeli Settlements Outposts in the Occupied WestBank during the periods 1996 – 2001, 2001 – 2003, and 2003 – 2009;


Number of erected Outposts









Source: ARIJ GIS Database (2009)

Obama and the Israeli Outposts

When Barrack Obama came to power in January 2009, a wave of optimism swept through the Middle East region with regard to the Palestinian cause.  Despite Obama&#39;s declaration that the United States is committed to Israel&#39;s security (a commitment which is emphasized by every U.S. president), he stressed the need of the Palestinian People to have their own state and the need to stop all forms of settlement activities.

As usual, talks about freezing settlements&#39; activities and the evacuation of outposts were resumed, and it appeared that the U.S. position on this matter is somewhat firm and that Israel would actually proceed to dismantle and evacuate a number of outposts. But Israel, as usual, seeks to elude this issue by stating that these outposts are part of the Occupation&#39;s policy in the West Bank and therefore, Israel has announced its intention to evacuate outposts that have been built on Palestinian lands or on lands claimed by the Israelis as &#39;State Lands&#39; (under the authority of the occupation). On the other hand, the Israeli Prime Minister (Binyamin Netanyahu) pointed out that while Israel commits itself to freeze settlement activities in the West Bank, it would be unfair to ban the construction in existing Israeli settlements to meet the so called &#39;natural growth of Israeli settlers’ population&#39;.

US denies &#39;Secret Deals&#39; with Israel on settlements

Shedding light on the Israeli claims of secret dealsbetween US president George W. Bush and Israeli Prime Ministers, Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert, stating that Israel would keep on the main settlements blocs in the West Bank in return for evacuating Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip, which took place in August 2005.  However, Israel has imposed its own conditions and rejected the agreement from its side and started constructing the Segregation Wall in the West Bank in June 2002 which, upon completion, will isolate 13% of the total area of the West Bank, including the main settlement blocs and Jerusalem city. 

Hence, one can conclude that Israel succeeded to a certain extent in imposing its conditions on Gaza withdrawal plan by postponing talks on settlements expansion and concentrating on the evacuation of a number of illegal outposts which has been confirmed (according to what has been stated in Sasson&#39;s report) that there were erected on Private Palestinian lands.  In the first stage,  26 Israeli outposts are to be evacuated, 10 of which, were established on Private Palestinian lands and 16 were erected on State Lands; thus, the talk is about 10 outposts that will be evacuated out 232 outposts already exist in the West Bank Territory. See Map

Earlier reports of some Israeli organizations pointed out that 40% of West Bank settlements sit on private Palestinian lands while in reality all construction in the Occupied Palestinian lands is legal including the outposts, the settlements, the segregation wall, etc.  The distinction between private Palestinian lands and other areas is an attempt by the Israeli government to sidestep the truth that all construction projects are illegal.

Will there be an Evacuation???

The talk about “outposts&#39; evacuation” has become one of the political rituals practiced by all new Israeli government. While the Israeli government talks about the evacuation of outposts and freezing of settlements construction from certain areas in the West Bank, permissions are being granted to build and expand existing settlements in other locations in the West Bank.  Israel&#39;s policy is now focused on the expansion of settlements and establishing outposts in areas west of the Segregation Wall which Israel seeks to annex upon the completion of wall construction, and in return, Israel will allow the evacuation of several insignificant outposts in other locations in the OPT, which were actually established to be negotiated about in the future.

Israel has always sought to mislead the world when it comes to settlements&#39; outposts by giving some of them a legal cover, through the issuance of ministerial reports that classified some of them as legal and others as illegal; however the truth is that all settlements&#39; activities including construction of settlements, erection of outposts, construction of bypass road, construction of military bases and camps, erection of roadblocks and checkpoints and all related activities which were carried out by Israel on Palestinian lands are illegal.  They were constructed on previously confiscated Palestinian lands and with the assistance and cooperation of the different Israeli ministries which provided these outposts with the required financial allocations and security services under various allegations.

Although the Israeli Government had announced several times its commitment to evacuate these outposts according to the road map, they did not actually do anything on the ground more than issuing evacuation orders.  Therefore, it should be emphasized that all Israeli settlements&#39; outposts are illegal and their removal is necessary to push forward the Peace Process with the emphasis on the implementation of all removal orders and handing over the lands to the Palestinians, their legitimate owners.


[1] 108 Israeli outposts out of the 213 that were erected by Israeli settlers by the year 2005.

[2]  And it could be for real



Prepared by:
The Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem