Peretz: 2 weeks to outpost evacuation

Plans to speak first with settler leaders, who hope to dissuade such action.

October 17, 2006 00:29
3 minute read.
illegal outpost 88

illegal outpost 88. (photo credit: )

Defense Minister Amir Peretz said Monday he intends to move against a number of unauthorized outposts within two weeks, following talks he plans to hold with settler leaders, according to MK Ran Cohen (Meretz). Settler leaders said they had heard nothing about such discussions except for reports regarding Peretz's comment to the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Ministry on Monday. "It takes two to tango," said Emily Amrusi, the spokeswoman for the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip. She said the council hoped that such talks would take place so that settler leaders would have a chance to dissuade the government from moving against the outposts. Last week, sources close to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said he would not act against the outposts at this time and accused Peretz of bringing up the issue to stop Israel Beiteinu from joining the coalition. Israel Beiteinu has said it would not enter the government if it moved to dismantle unauthorized outposts. However early this month, before any talk of expanding the coalition, Peretz spoke with The Jerusalem Post about removing outposts. He was apparently speaking about the 12 (out of a total of 105) outposts that were earmarked for destruction prior to the start of the war with Lebanon. Peretz spoke out against about the outposts on Monday when quizzed by Cohen at the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee regarding the government's failure to move against them. "He [Peretz] said he is working on a plan to dismantle the outposts," said Cohen. "I said, 'When?' He replied that he had set aside these two weeks to negotiate with the settlers and after that, 'We will do it,'" Cohen reported. Also speaking to the panel, Peretz said the IDF was stepping up its anti-terror activity in the Gaza Strip. "Gaza will not become like southern Lebanon," said Peretz. A high ranking intelligence officer who also briefed the committee said that 17 to 20 terrorists were killed over the weekend . "We are attacking every terrorist no matter which organization they belong to," said Peretz, who added that the IDF "was not stopping to check the addresses on the missiles to see who had launched them." The intelligence officer told the panel that Hamas was arming itself and preparing for a different form of combat. For example, the officer said said, Hamas was building an underground military area in Gaza. Arms are continuing to be smuggled into Gaza from the Rafah border with Egypt and from the sea, including weaponry from Syria, said the officer. Hamas was also receiving military assistance from Iran and Hizbullah, he said. Some of the Syrian weapons are also making their way to Palestinian areas in Judea and Samaria, and terrorists are traveling to Syria and Iran for training and then returning to Gaza. Terrorists in the Strip, mostly associated with Hamas, were working to increase the range of Kassam rockets. Despite the arms buildup by Hamas and other terror groups in Gaza, Peretz said he was not interested in conducting a ground operation in the Strip. He said he hoped that a diplomatic solution would be found to the violence. Knesset members were also briefed on issues relating to Syria and southern Lebanon. Syria came out of the war believing there were tactics to that could be used to fight the IDF even though they understand that this came at a great risk, the intelligence offer said, adding that Syria was preparing to fight Israel. Its long-range rockets could reach the north of Israel, he said, and Syria had not closed its border with Iraq. Peretz said the IAF would continue to fly over southern Lebanon to gather valuable intelligence. He said the flights were a contentious subject in the international community and that this was likely to get worse. But Israel had no choice in the matter, Peretz said. Without such flights, Israel would not be able to monitor violations of the cease-fire, Peretz said. "We would be blind to what is happening." Based on information acquired in this fashion, Israel believed that Syria has renewed its arms smuggling into Lebanon, Peretz said. He added that proof of this violation of Security Council Resolution 1701 had only been gathered three or four days ago. "UN Resolution 1701 has not been fulfilled," he said, because arms were still being smuggled into the country and the two IDF soldiers Hizbullah kidnapped on July 12 had not been returned. The intelligence officer said additional violations were evidence by the fact that Hizbullah has not been disbanded and its arms were hidden in southern Lebanon.

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