Israel's Lieberman slams wildcat West Bank settlements

Jerusalem (AFP) –


Israel's Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman denounced unauthorised Jewish outposts in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday, a day after the prime minister vowed not to uproot settlements in the territory.

International law sees all Israel's West Bank settlements as illegal, but Israel distinguishes between those it sanctions and those it does not.

Such outposts "have caused considerable damage to settlement", army radio quoted Lieberman as telling journalists.

His comments came after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday that settlements would not be removed, drawing no distinction between outposts and settlements authorised by the authorities.

"It is our land. We have come back here to stay here for good," he said.

United Nations chief Antonio Guterres, visiting the West Bank Tuesday, called Israeli settlements a "major obstacle" to peace with Palestinians, noting that they are "illegal under international law".

Lieberman also criticised a controversial settlement law that would legalise dozens of Jewish settlements built on private Palestinian land.

The Supreme Court froze the law's implementation on August 18.

Lieberman said the law would retroactively legalise 2,000 homes and buildings built on Palestinian land.

But, he said, it would also legalise "10,000 homes" built by Palestinians without permission from the Israeli authorities.

Lieberman also lashed out at Israeli extremists who carry out attacks on Palestinians, describing them as "anarchists" and "idiots" who are damaging the settlement enterprise.

Israel has seen a wave of "price tag" attacks -- a euphemism for Jewish nationalist-motivated hate crimes targeting Palestinians, Arab Israelis, their property and Muslim and Christian holy sites.