World Bulletin / News Desk
A government-appointed committee proposed on Monday granting official status to dozens of settler outposts in the occupied West Bank although world court ruled Israeli settlements were illegal.
The panel, chaired by a former Israeli Supreme Court justice who has written pro-settlement opinions from the bench, said, that the West Bank "is not occupied territory" and settling Jews there is legal.
The opinion, yet to be formally accepted by the government, flew in the face of the World Court ruling that all settlements are illegal because of their location on occupied land.
The Israeli committee disputed that ruling, arguing Israel's occupation of the West Bank does not constitute occupation as no country was sovereign over the territory when it invaded from Jordan in a 1967 war.
"Therefore, according to international law, Israelis have the legal right to settle in Judea and Samaria and the establishment of settlements cannot, in and of itself, be considered to be illegal," it said, using the Biblical names for the West Bank.
Israel has built some 120 settlements in the West Bank. Dozens of outposts, which past Israeli governments had pledged to remove, have also gone up in the territory.
Palestinians say the enclaves will deny them a viable and contiguous state, a view that has won wide international support.Last Mod: 09 Temmuz 2012, 14:59