Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seeking ways to legalise unauthorised settlement outposts built on privatePalestinian land, the Haaretz newspaper reported on Tuesday.
According to the paper, Netanyahu told ministers from his rightwing Likud party on Sunday that he would order Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman to set up a task force to explore ways of legalising such construction.
The decision to set up a task force was taken after heavy pressure from the settler lobby and rightwing activists following the demolition in early September of three structures in the Migron outpost near the West Bank city of Ramallah, the report said.
The decision to demolish Migron and other outposts built on private Palestinian land was taken in February when Netanyahu and three other ministers met with Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein, Haaretz said.
At the meeting, they agreed to raze all such outposts while at the same time working to retroactively legalise any illegal construction in both settlements and outposts built on state land.
According to a timetable submitted to the High Court, the government is to have demolished the Givat Asam outpost by the end of the year, as well as parts of three others: Givat HaRoeh, Ramat Gilad and Bnei Adam.
The issue of construction on private Palestinian land has been the subject of lengthy court battles, one of which saw the Supreme Court in August order the government to raze Migron by the end of March 2012.
Israel considers settlement outposts built in the West Bank without government approval to be illegal, and often sends security personnel to demolish them. They usually consist of little more than a few trailers.
The international community considers all settlements built in the occupied West Bank, including annexed Arab east Jerusalem, to be illegal.