Israel Policy Forum unreservedly opposes the Israeli government’s decision on Sunday night to retroactively legalize nine illegal outposts across the West Bank. This action makes clear that the Netanyahu government is set on undermining any potential future negotiated resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, betraying its commitment to previous agreements with the United States, and making a farce of its commitment to the rule of law. It is particularly ironic that at the same time that the government insists that the judicial reforms it has proposed are necessary to strengthen Israeli democracy and the rule of law, it is taking concrete actions that undermine both of those principles.

Illegal outposts in the West Bank are illegal under Israeli law because their existence deliberately subverts the planning and approval process that Israel has put in place in order to establish new settlements and because, in many instances, they have been built on private Palestinian land. Retroactively legalizing such outposts demonstrates that Israel is not serious about enforcing its own laws and regulations, not serious about abiding by Israeli Supreme Court rulings, and not serious about reinforcing the need for all Israelis to follow Israeli law. It is also a direct and deliberate strike on the U.S.-Israel relationship in light of the Israeli government’s commitment in 2004 to dismantle existing illegal outposts, a pledge that not only has not been fulfilled but is now being flouted in the most fundamental and dismissive way. Most obviously, it is the embodiment of an approach that declares any two-state outcome completely off the table for Israel and that seeks to ensure that no future Israeli government will have the ability to pursue it, irrespective of any political changes that may occur.

We urge the Biden administration to continue expressing its opposition to the retroactive legalization of these outposts and to do so even more strongly, and to use its influence with the Israeli government to halt this process. While we acknowledge the current Israeli government’s opposition to two states, we continue to believe in Israeli democracy, which requires a basic commitment to following the rules and abiding by previous agreements, and that ultimately Israeli security, democracy, and Jewish character can only be preserved through a two-state outcome.