Maaleh Rehavam outpost 248.88 AJ.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The IDF is drafting operational plans to evacuate several West Bank outposts by the end of June, senior defense officials said on Wednesday.
According to preliminary operational plans being formulated in the Central Command, the evacuations will take place over a few days and will likely begin sometime toward the end of next month, after Defense Minister Ehud Barak returns from his scheduled trip to the United States.
Barak issued an official directive to the IDF on Wednesday to finish drafting the plans by the middle of next week, officials said.
Also on Wednesday, officers from the Central Command met with representatives from the Judea and Samaria Police District to discuss the plans. One possibility is that the evacuations will be carried out by the Border Police and the perimeter security will be provided by the IDF, similar to the model used during the evacuation of the illegal outpost of Amona on February 1, 2006, when more than 300 people were injured, the majority of them protesters.
In the first stage, the defense establishment is to evacuate some six illegal outposts that have been built on Palestinian land. These include Ramat Gilad, near Karnei Shomron; Shaked Farm in Samaria; Mitzpe Yosef in the Binyamin Region; and Einot Kedem in the Jordan Valley.
In the second stage, the IDF would begin evacuating some 12 outposts that have been built partly on state land and partly on Palestinian land.
The Defense Ministry's settlement adviser, Eitan Broshi, was given until Barak returns from the US in the second week of June to exhaust a dialogue with the settler leadership, officials said. It was possible that a few of the outposts would be voluntarily evacuated, they said.
The evacuation will need to span several days because of the possibility that security forces will encounter violent resistance at some of the "hardcore" outposts, specifically those in the Northern Samarian Hills, they added.
Another reason is the IDF's need to redeploy forces around the outposts following their evacuation to prevent settlers from rebuilding them. Officials said that this would demand a larger number of soldiers and policemen than were currently deployed in the West Bank.
"We expect the violent scenes from Amona to return," one official said. "We will do our utmost to minimize the violence, but we will be ready for every possible scenario."
Barak told the Labor Party faction this week that the evacuations would be completed by the end of the summer. He said that, out of the 87 West Bank settlement outposts, 26 were illegal.
Although the cabinet in 2005 accepted an independent report from attorney Talia Sasson that identified 105 unauthorized outposts, Barak said on Monday that there were 87 outposts, of which 26 were illegal, and that both he, when he was prime minister, and former prime minister Ariel Sharon had promised the United States that these outposts would be removed.
In the past year, he said, four of them had been removed and one, Migron, was covered by an agreement with the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip to be relocated. He stressed, however, that the evacuation of these outposts had nothing to do with the US, but was an internal Israeli matter regarding rule of law.