10 outposts slated for demolition

Former mayor: For every settlement taken down, two will be built.

By TOVAH LAZAROFF AND YAAKOV KATZ
May 25, 2009 23:57
10 outposts slated for demolition

outpost flag 248 88. (photo credit: AP [file])

 
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The Civil Administration has delivered six of the 10 zoning notices it plans to issue against unauthorized West Bank outposts ahead of their planned evacuation. No date has been set for the destruction of these outposts, and officials said the notices had been posted in line with standard procedure. On Sunday and Monday the zoning notices were received in the outposts of Ma'aleh Rehavam, Givat Haro'eh, Ramat Gilad, Givat Asaf, Maon Farm and Mitzpe Lachish. In the next few days, such notices will also be handed out to the outposts of Havat Shaked, Hazon David, Mitzpe Yitzhar and Yitzhar Darom. Defense Minister Ehud Barak told his party's faction meeting in the Knesset on Monday that "these things need to be taken care of. We will try to do it first through dialogue, but if that fails to yield results, we will do it unilaterally with force." He added that action would happen in a matter of months, not years, but said in the next sentence that the issue could move forward within weeks. Although the cabinet in 2005 accepted an independent report from attorney Talia Sasson that spoke of 105 unauthorized outposts, Barak said on Monday that there were 87 outposts, of which 26 were illegal. Barak reminded his party's MKs that both he, as prime minister, and former prime minister Ariel Sharon had promised the Americans that these outposts would be removed. In the last year, he said, four of them had been removed and one, Migron, was under 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 United States, but was an internal Israeli matter regarding rule of law. Speaking earlier in the day on Israel Radio, he added that since the Sasson report, a number of outposts had been erected and removed, such as Maoz Esther last week. However, settlers at the outpost, near Kedumim, were busy rebuilding the seven shacks that had been removed. They are also planning a mass event there next week, calling on all who support settlement in Judea and Samaria to come and help them build up the outpost, which was first erected by activists from Eretz Yisrael Faithful in December 2007. Although no established outposts have been created since 2005, Eretz Yisrael Faithful have tried to build some 10 new ones in the last two years, including one in a cave outside of Kedumim that is home to half a dozen teens. Former Kedumim mayor Daniella Weiss told The Jerusalem Post that for every outpost Barak takes down, two more will be built. Orit Struck, a spokeswoman for Hebron's Jewish community, said the Hazon David outpost - which consists of one synagogue - had been destroyed some 35 times in the last five years. Each time it is rebuilt, it gains in stature, she said. Nadia Matar of Women in Green, meanwhile, said activists had been holding meetings to seek ways of averting Barak's threats, but she did not want to divulge their strategy. She added that more needed to be done than just rebuilding an outpost. Matar accused Barak of focusing on the outposts to hide the fact that he was incapable of dealing with either Iran's nuclear threat or that of Arab terrorists. "We are passing out a clear message to [Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu that the people of Israel threw to the opposition all those politicians who called for capitulation of Arab terror, and we chose a government that would safeguard the Land of Israel. If he is going to implement left-wing policies, then he will fall. We are not going to accept this," said Matar. The real issue is not the outposts, but the presence of Barak in Netanyahu's government, she said. "He should be ousted," she declared. She called on the people of Israel not to be misled by Barak's talk of rule of law. "The struggle for the outposts is the real beginning of the struggle against the creation of a Palestinian state," she said. All the outposts are legal, Matar added, and declared that the only illegal outpost was Barak in Netanyahu's government. On Tuesday, she said, Women in Green and the Committee for a Jewish Shadma plan to launch a billboard campaign against Barak, stating, "Barak, the Iranian nuclear core is not in the outposts." On Monday, Dani Dayan - who heads the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip - as well as council director-general Pinchas Wallerstein, Binyamin Regional Council head Avi Ro'eh and settler leader Ze'ev Hever headed to the Knesset to lobby politicians both in support of the outposts and against the freeze in new construction permits for homes in the settlements. In a meeting with Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein (Likud), Hever said that Netanyahu was worse than his predecessor Ehud Olmert. Dayan reiterated his stance that the council would not engage in dialogue regarding the unauthorized outposts until that freeze on construction permits had been lifted. But while settler leaders and right-wing activists voiced their concern over Barak's moves, Hagit Ofran of Peace Now said she was not convinced that all of this amounted to new action against the outposts. Orders against at least six of these outposts have been issued in the past, she said. Her organization has gone to court over Mitzpe Yitzhar, Ma'aleh Rehavam, Givat Asaf, Mitzpe Lachish, Ramat Gilad and Givat Haro'eh. As of last week, she said, the court had given the state three months to explain why these outposts had not been evacuated. Officials said that Barak was hoping to reach an arrangement with the settler leadership under which settlers would evacuate voluntarily. If the sides failed to reach an agreement, Barak, the officials said, would not hesitate to order security forces to use force to evacuate the outposts. In the event of an evacuation, officials said that the IDF would likely secure the area around the outposts and that the actual evacuation would be carried out by Border Policemen. This was the format used during the violent destruction of nine permanent homes at the Amona outpost in 2006. Officials said that the level of violence depended on the outpost and that security forces were preparing for a wide-range of scenarios including violent resistance by right-wing activists. Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.

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