Israeli Alternate Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benny Gantz has blocked PM Benjamin Netanyahu's attempt to legalize the settlement outposts.
Gantz refused to include the proposal on the government’s agenda, saying that discussing such an important issue a day before the inauguration of US President Joe Biden is irresponsible.
Netanyahu tried to include the proposal on last week’s agenda, but Gantz requested a meeting for deliberation, which never happened.
Rather, Likud sources claimed that Gantz had agreed to the move, which he soon denied, compelling a number of settlers to accuse Netanyahu of hiding behind the minister.
Tuesday’s cabinet session discussed extending the lockdown measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus, but Netanyahu tried to include a proposal that would recognize the illegal communities.
He said 18,000 Jewish settlers living in the outposts are in tragic conditions, without water or electricity, stressing that their sites must be recognized as official settlements for humanitarian reasons.
Gantz rejected the proposal, saying it was “irresponsible”, and indicated that senior officials and experts of the justice and foreign ministries have voiced their opposition to the project to “legitimize outposts” for political and legal reasons.
Senior Justice Ministry officials said the transitional government is not entitled to take such decisions, warning of the impact they might have on the investigations of the International Criminal Court (ICC) against Israel on the issue of settlements.
In addition, the Palestinian Foreign Ministry announced that it would include the legalization of the outposts to its case against Israel.
The draft resolution aims to legalize 49 outposts of the unrecognized 110.
Last month, 20 representatives of groups protesting the delay in recognizing the outposts launched a sit-in before Netanyahu's office.
Two weeks ago, they began a hunger strike and Samaria Regional Council chairman Yossi Dagan was hospitalized after collapsing.
Dagan said earlier that Netanyahu is not serious about legalizing the outposts.
Observers believe Netanyahu was aware that Gantz would not allow the issue to be discussed in the government, yet he insisted on bringing it up to say that Gantz was the one against the decision.