Here, from the Washington Post:
Excerpts from her story, "Israel legalizes unsanctioned settler enclave", appear below with my italicized comments in brackets . Unfortuntely, we who are interviewed rarely get a chance to review the story before publication although quotations and additional 'factual' elements usually are run by us for approval.
But I will stress that from the outset her determination was to present a picture of "illegality" while I kept stressing "unauthorized" and referred to the reality all over Israel including kibbutzim whereby the bureacracy is overcome by first building and then all the necessary authorizations are arranged. And in Judea and Samaria, the difficulty is two-fold: not only a lazy and awkward and complex bureaucracy but also simple political considerations or prejudices can hold up legal construction by method of withholding an authorization or a signing-off on plans that are all perfectly in order.
But now, to her story:
SHVUT RACHEL, West Bank (AP) -- Israel has quietly [I would think the media 'noise' last week was heard even at AP's editorial offices]legalized one of the oldest and largest of the unsanctioned [Shvut Rachel was sanctioned and authorized and recognized in 1991 and has been registered as a neighborhood of Shiloh as it sits on land officially and legally zoned as part of Shiloh which was done in the mid-1980s] settler enclaves dotting the West Bank, a step denounced by the Palestinians and Israeli activists as a show of bad faith ahead of talks next week between the Israeli leader and President Barack Obama [actually, the belated authorization was dictated by the Peace New appeal to the High Court of Justice which finally required the Civil Adminsitration and Ministry of Defence to do what they should have done years ago].
The dispute over settlements has confounded [in truth, it is but one of many things confounding negotiations, foremost among them the refusal of the Arabs to come to the table, to accept ther parameters, to agree to security needs, to recognize refuggee resettlement outisde, to stop incitement, etc.] Washington's attempts to revive Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, mostly on hold since 2008. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has refused to stop construction [wait, wasn't there a 10-month moratorium? it is referred to farther below but only as coming from man Israeli spokesperson] and the Palestinians say they won't negotiate while Israel unilaterally determines the borders of their state through settlement-building.
...The stalled talks and dispute over settlements is bound to come up when Netanyahu meets Obama on Monday.
Shvut Rachel, home to 95 Israeli families, was established 21 years ago on a hilltop in the heart of the West Bank [after Arab terrorists killed 2, Rachela Druk and Yitzhak Rofe and wounded others including children, one, Harel Bin-Nun, was to survive but was then killed in 1998 by other terrorist at Yitzhar] - an area Israel would likely have to withdraw from to make way for a Palestinian state. The settlers grabbed the land without government permission [the land was not "grabbed without permission". the land was allotted to Shiloh. True, plans for construction there had not been made but after the murders of Rachela and Yitzhak, a group of Yeshiva students led by Yossi Shuker z"l set up home on the hill a 10-minute walk from my house and within a short time, full government permission was received].
Now that approval seems at hand. A planning committee last week retroactively legalized 115 apartments already built or under construction in Shvut Rachel, according to government officials and the community's acting mayor, Yaakov Moshe Levi. The move apparently resulted from pressure by peace activists to stop construction there.
In its decision, the panel also approved in principle nearly 500 more apartments, though a construction start would require further permits and could be years away, government officials said.
Hagit Ofran of Israel's Peace Now group says this amounts to establishing a new settlement, contrary to pledges by successive governments over the past two decades not to do so. Israel's Defense Ministry rejected that characterization, saying Shvut Rachel is a neighborhood of the nearby government-sanctioned settlement of Shiloh [which, indeed, it is. as I pointed out to Karin, come election time, the voting booth for Shvut Rachel is always located in Shiloh. they are not recognized as an nindependent entity by the Ministry yof the Interior].
Ghassan Khatib...denounced the Shvut Rachel decision as an escalation of Israel's practices.
...half a million Israelis already live on war-won land, [a war the Arabs precipitated and launched. Israel gained the lands which were originally slated to become part of the historic Jewish homeland by the decision of the League of Nations in a defensive military operation] in more than 130 government-sanctioned settlements and some 100 unauthorized outposts [with a population of some 350,000 which is over 10% of the total population, a situation beginning to mirror that of the Arab minority in Israel] set up by settlers who are open about their desire to impede any partition.
...Spokesman Mark Regev insists the current Israeli government "has shown more restraint on the issue of settlements than any previous government," referring to a 10-month construction slowdown in 2010. He reiterated that the fate of settlements must be determined in negotiations [yes, it is a final-status issue] and that Israel is willing to resume talks immediately.
But a visit to the West Bank's heartland suggests that an Israeli withdrawal would be increasingly difficult. Settlers control many hilltops, their communities flourishing with government support, including for unauthorized outposts.
Shvut Rachel and Shiloh [see map below], which also won retroactive approval for some 100 apartments last week, have spawned five more nearby outposts [Achiyah, Keida, Adei-Ad, Esh Kodesh, Givat Harel and Gal Yosef actually. oh, and the retreat called Yishuv HaDa'at]. Settlers operate vineyards [see pictures below] on 3,000 acres that produce more than 50,000 bottles of wine a year, as well as an olive press that produces 12 percent of Israel's domestic olive oil, said New York-born Yisrael Medad, a Shiloh resident.
"We love the land and we build here, and after that we get formalization," the 65-year-old said during a tour of the area Tuesday.
In Shvut Rachel and the area's five other unsanctioned enclaves, the government has lent a hand, even while withholding formal approval. The Housing Ministry under settler patron Ariel Sharon, later Israel's prime minister, built 68 homes in Shvut Rachel just months after it was established, even though it lacked permits, said Moshe Levi, the acting mayor.
The government also provided water, electricity and other services, just as it does for other unauthorized settler enclaves set up since the late 1990s in response to calls by Sharon for settlers to seize the hilltops.
Israel's Defense Ministry denied last week's decision means an outpost has been legalized. It described Shvut Rachel as a neighborhood of Shiloh, home to about 300 families. The two communities are about a half-mile (kilometer) apart, on neighboring hilltops separated by a valley.
"This is not an isolated outpost. This is a neighborhood of Shiloh," a Defense Ministry spokesman said of Shvut Rachel, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with briefing regulations.
Shvut Rachel is part of Shilo's municipal boundaries, Medad said.
However, a 2005 government-commissioned report classified Shvut Rachel as an outpost - as it has with other unauthorized enclaves, even if they were set up within the municipal boundaries of a mother settlement [and that report was specious and ideologically-driven by someone who ran for the Knesset on the estreme left-wing Meretz Party].
Moshe Levi said Shilo and Shvut Rachel have separate budgets and administrations.
Talia Sasson, an Israeli lawyer who wrote the 2005 report on outposts, said she was concerned the Shvut Rachel decision could pave the way for the retroactive legalization of more outposts...
Sharon promised Washington to dismantle outposts built after he took office in March 2001. The Defense Ministry official said three outposts have been removed. The military has also removed mobile homes and other structures in other enclaves, but settlers routinely return to the sites.
Now the Netanyahu government appears to be backing away from Sharon's promise. In January, Netanyahu appointed a three-member committee to review land and legal issues in each outpost.
The panel was told illegal construction on private West Bank land should be removed, and was asked to put in order the planning and zoning status of Israeli construction on public lands, said committee member Alan Baker...Ofran, the settlement monitor, said the recent government decisions have sent a clear message to the settlers: "You build illegally where you want ... and the government of Israel will approve it for you retroactively."
Well, as we know, what is legal can become illegal by the stroke of a pen or the raising of a hand in a parliamentary vote and the very same way can become legal.
What is more difficult a procedure is to correct media biases and errors.
P.S. Dan Bality's picture :
and then mine
Yaakov Moshe-Levi with Karin
what a parcelization and construction approval map look like
and here is a view Issachar P. of this morning - the valley innundated with water:
And a map to orient yourselves:
More here (Feb. 28, 2012, acting mayor Yaakov Moshe Levi points at the housing plan of the Svut Rachel settlement on the map, in the Jewish West Bank settlement of Shvut Rachel, near Nablus.) and also here (the Jewish West Bank settlement of Shvut Rachel, left, and the Jewish settlement of Shilo, right, near Nablus.)
The following data has now been supplied to me:
695 units have been authorized for construction.
611 units in Shvut Rachel. Out of these, 90 are for existing structures and 521 for new buildings.
84 units for Shiloh, in the new neighborhood T'chelet St., 28 existing and another 56 new.
All these authorizations are not yet the final approval.
In other words, the apartment buildings in Ramat Shmuel are still awaiting.