Shvut Rachel (Hebrew: שבות רחל) is an Israeli settlement and a city in the West Bank, located 30 miles (45 km) north of Jerusalem. Shvut Rachel is located in the Shiloh area in Binyamin. Nearby Israeli settlements include Shilo, Giv'at Har'el, Esh Kodesh, Keeda, and Adei Ad. The village, administrated by the Matte Binyamin Regional Council, has a population of 100 families. The international community considers Israeli settlements in the West Bank illegal under international law, but the Israeli government disputes this.
The village was founded in November 1991 in memory of the victims of a terrorist attack on a civilian bus. Rachela Druk of Shilo, a mother of 7, and Yitzhak Rofe, the bus driver - who were on their way to a demonstration in Tel Aviv. On the night of the funerals, a group of students from the yeshiva in Shilo as well as two young couples, including a pregnant woman who gave birth a week later, established Shvut Rachel. The settlers moved on to the land without government permission.
In February 2012 the Israeli government approved the construction of new housing units in Shvut Rachel. This action was condemned by the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the European Union, Catherine Ashton, whose spokesperson said:
The High Representative is deeply concerned by the approval on 22 February by the Israeli Civil Administration of new construction in the settlements of Shvut Rachel and Shilo as well as the retrospective approval granted for housing units already built.
Settlements are illegal under international law. In addition the Quartet Roadmap states that Israel should not only freeze all settlement activity, but also dismantle those settlements erected since March 2001. It is particularly important at this point that neither party in the Middle East peace process undertakes provocative actions which undermine the prospects for continuing the dialogue which was re-established in January.
The High Representative calls on Israel to respect its obligations under the Roadmap and reverse this decision.
Like all Israeli settlements in the Israeli-occupied territories, Shvut Rachel is considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this. The international community considers Israeli settlements to violate the Fourth Geneva Convention's prohibition on the transfer of an occupying power's civilian population into occupied territory. Israel disputes that the Fourth Geneva Convention applies to the Palestinian territories as they had not been legally held by a sovereign prior to Israel taking control of them. This view has been rejected by the International Court of Justice and the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Israel itself differentiates between "legal" and "illegal" settlements. Shvut Rachel was illegal by Israeli standards until February 2012. According to Peace Now, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories legalized the outpost by redesignating it as a neighborhood of Shilo.
Binat is a midrasha located in Shvut Rachel. Headed by Rabbi Ronen Tamir, it was founded in 2000 as an additional branch of the nearby yeshiva in Shilo. It includes a regular seminary program, a one month program in September for college students, and a joint program with Beit Vegan Teachers College. It is associated with the Talpiot College of Education.
- Aaron J. Klein (November 2, 2009). Israeli Police: U.S.-Born Settler Was a Terrorist. Retrieved August 21, 2012.
- "The Geneva Convention". BBC News. 10 December 2009. Retrieved 27 November 2010.
- Jerusalem Post: US joins PA, UN in slamming outpost plans. February 23, 2012.
- Karin Laub (March 1, 2012). "Israel legalizes unsanctioned settler enclave". Associated Press. Retrieved August 21, 2012.
- "Statement by the Spokesperson of the EU High Representative Catherine Ashton on Israeli Settlement Approvals of 22 February". Targeted News Service. February 23, 2012. Retrieved August 21, 2012.
- Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory International Court of Justice, 9 July 2004. pp. 44-45
- "Watchdog says Israel 'legalises' another settler outpost". Agence France-Presse. July 16, 2012. Retrieved August 21, 2012.