Israeli Cabinet Empowers Negev and Galilee Ministry to Promote Outpost “Legalization” in Occupied West Bank

Adalah: the decision deepens the de facto annexation of the occupied West Bank and constitutes a crime of aggression under the Rome Statute of the ICC

On 14 February 2023, Adalah - The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel sent a letter to  the Prime Minister, the Defense Minister, the Attorney General, the Negev, Galilee and National Resilience Minister, the Military Commander of the West Bank, and the Military Advocate General, demanding that they immediately act to cancel the government decision in regard to the transfer of spheres of operation in the occupied Palestinian territory to the Ministry of "Negev, Galilee and National Resilience" and to refrain from taking any steps to implement it


CLICK HERE to read an English translation of Adalah’s letter

CLICK HERE to read the letter [Hebrew]

CLICK HERE to read Government decision No. 109 dated 5 February 2023 [Hebrew]


The government decision, passed on 5 February 2023, transfers management authorities relating to the “regularization” of outposts in the West Bank, branded by the government as “young settlements” from the Military to the Ministry - headed by Minister Yitzhak Wasserlauf, a member of the radical right-wing “Jewish Power” Party. It was introduced pursuant to the coalition agreements between the “Jewish Power” Party and the Likud party, whereby the government has committed to transfer from military to civilian control over Israeli Jewish settlers unlawfully occupying Palestinian land.


In the letter, Adalah’s Legal Director Dr. Suhad Bishara argued that the decision constitutes a blatant violation of international law and was made without authority.


Adalah argued that the decision to transfer authority in the occupied West Bank to the Ministry, subject to Israeli law, as if they were part of the territory of the State of Israel, deepens the de facto annexation of the occupied West Bank and could even be considered a de jure annexation, all of which is strictly prohibited by international law. These acts of annexation constitute a crime of aggression under Article 8(2)(a) of the Rome Statute. Adalah, therefore, emphasized that the decision demonstrates the intention of the government officials who made it to commit crimes under the Rome Statute. In addition, Adalah argued that the decision and subsequent actions taken to implement it are a clear breach of international humanitarian law, which expressly prohibits the establishment of settlements in occupied territories. Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits the transfer of a civilian population of the occupying power to the occupied territory. This type of transfer is considered a war crime under the Rome Statute establishing the International Criminal Court (Article 8 (2) (b) VIII), a matter that is currently under investigation by the International Criminal Court in relation to the Israeli occupation since 1967.


Adalah further argued that the government has no authority to transfer authority related to the administration of the occupied territories, to the Ministry under Israeli law. The Basic Law: The Government provides that "[t]he Government is entitled […] to transfer spheres of operation from one ministry to another", yet this authority does not include the transfer of authority related to the administration of occupied territories and subject to the military commander in this territory, according to international law. The transfer of authority is illegal because ministers cannot assume powers granted under international law to the military commander. This remains true even without considering the illegality of actions that would fall under the Ministry's jurisdiction under international law.