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(photo credit: AP [file])
Calling settlers who break the law "weeds" that needed to be uprooted, a determined Defense Minister Amir Peretz told settler leaders Sunday night that outposts, whose residents have in the past clashed with security forces, would be evacuated in the coming weeks.
Peretz met with the settler leaders for the first time since taking up the defense post last month. Despite requests by the settlers to re-examine the legal status of the outposts, Peretz remained determined to stick to his decision to begin evacuating a number of illegal outposts in the coming weeks, pending government approval of the move.
Referring to the Maon Farm outpost near Hebron where settlers have repeatedly clashed with security forces in the past, Peretz told the settler leaders that the residents of the illegal outposts were not only breaking the law but were also disgracing Jewish tradition, which they claim to live according to.
"We will evacuate the places where the residents break the law as well as go against Jewish tradition," Peretz told the leaders. "It is my job to enable the settler population to carry on living a normal life while at the same time enforcing the law and cracking down on those who break it."
Meanwhile Sunday, defense officials estimated that the Maon Farm outpost near Hebron would be the first to be evacuated by the IDF since the settlers there repeatedly broke the law and clashed with security forces which were needed on a daily basis to protect Palestinian children who went to school nearby.
In contrast to the Sasson Report, which claimed that over 100 outposts were illegal, one official intimately involved in the issue said that the office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories had found 21 outposts that were built illegally, most of them on Palestinian land.
The official further predicted that violence would erupt during the evacuation of the outposts, which he said were settled by right-wing extremists who in some cases were capable of opening fire on security forces. OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh would make the final decision regarding the order of the evacuations.