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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
The Council of Jewish Settlements in Judea and Samaria on Tuesday called on Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to appoint an independent investigator to re-examine the Sasson Report on illegal outposts in the wake of her charges that the lawlessness of Jewish settlers in the West Bank was "a moral stain" on Israeli society.
Meanwhile, hundreds of young settlers on Tuesday erected 14 more illegal outposts in the West Bank and near the Kissufim crossing point at the entrance to the Gaza Strip and said they planned to build another 11 before the end of the Hanukkah holiday.
"Attorney Talia Sasson, who was authorized by you to investigate the matter of the outposts expressed herself during the past day in a one-sided manner which points to her left-wing bias and therefore calls into question the fairness and credibility of her report," council chairman Benzi Lieberman wrote to Sharon.
He called for an independent investigator to look into the basic assumptions of the report, the standards used to determine whether or not the outposts were legal and the validity of Sasson's recommendations.
In her report, which was released on March 9, Sasson charged that settlers had built 105 illegal outposts, including 61 on land which, in part or its entirety, did not belong to the state. These outposts had been built with the collusion of government ministries and other public bodies, Sasson found.
Meanwhile, during a Haifa University conference entitled "Israel and the Law in the Territories" Monday evening, Sasson charged that the involvement of the military government with the government's Jewish settlement program was "very bad and harmful."
She said that the military government, officially known as the civil administration, which was established according to international law to look after the welfare of the Palestinians, had turned into the main institution charged with implementing Israeli settlement in the territories. "The civil administration allocates land, declares that the land is state-owned, and approves connections to water and electricity," said Sasson. "The administration, in essence, is the institution that makes settlement activity in the territories possible."
She added that "the civil administration is subordinate to the army and the military commander on the one hand, and to the co-coordinator of activities in the territories, also a uniformed officer, on the other. Thus, the body through which the government has acted for many years regarding everything having to do with the settlements is administered by and under the command of the IDF. This intermingling between the army and the settlement enterprise in the territories is very bad and harmful."
Sasson charged that the "violation of the principle of the rule of law and the gross violation of the law that is taking place in the territories today is unparalleled. The responsibility for redressing this situation falls above all on the shoulders of the government and its institutions. It cannot run away from this responsibility. As long as no steps are takenâ€¦our entire society will be morally stained. Therefore, we must demand over and over again that the government remedy the situation."
Since publishing her report, Sasson has been careful not to criticize the government while waiting to see what steps it would take to implement her recommendations. The speech at the University of Haifa marks the first time she has openly criticized the government and publicly demanded that it take action against the illegal outposts since the publication of her report.
Most of the illegal outposts established on Tuesday were built close to existing settlements so that the settlers could claim they were new neighborhoods.
Meanwhile, supporters of the illegal construction planned daily candle-lighting ceremonies at various intersections around the country as part of their campaign.
An IDF spokesman dismissed the new illegal outpost initiative as marginal.