Barak: 'We will have dialogue. If not, we will act unilaterally' to evacuate outposts

Nine illegal outposts in West Bank served with zoning notices; right-wing activist Baruch Marzel: 'if Bibi does this, we will take him out politically.'

maoz esther outpost 248 88 ap (photo credit: )
maoz esther outpost 248 88 ap
(photo credit: )
Defense Minister Ehud Barak emphasized Monday that the government must continue with its plan to evacuate unauthorized outposts. "We will have dialogue - but if not, we will act unilaterally, while using an appropriate amount of force if necessary...It is not a matter of months or years... we will act in the coming weeks," Barak said during a Labor faction meeting Monday afternoon. Earlier Monday, it was reported that the Civil Administration had issued zoning notices for nine unauthorized outposts in the West Bank over the last 24 hours. In retaliation, settlers distributed pamphlets entitled "Fighting for our homes" which list 'five steps' to take in the case of an evacuation, according to an Army Radio report. The first step includes preparation for immediate reconstruction in the case of an evacuation and the amassing of construction supplies in order to do so. The next step was inspired by one of the ten plagues of Egypt, the plague of the frog, and calls for the immediate building of new outposts and expansions of existing ones every time there is an evacuation in order to "humiliate the defense minister." Far right-wing activist Baruch Marzel promised that these steps and others would change the reality on the ground and would bring about the fall of the Netanyahu government. "The outposts have proved that they are stronger than any Israeli government, and more governments have fallen than outposts. If Bibi does this, we will take him out politically." The outposts in question include Havat Shaked, Mitzpe Yitzhar, Yitzhar Darom, Ramat Gilad, Hazon David, Givat Haroe, Maaleh Rehavam and Mitzpe Lahish. Zoning notices are put up on buildings built illegally and are used to inform people that they are residing in an unauthorized area. Defense officials said the notices had been posted ahead of the planned evacuation of the outposts. The High Court of Justice is still in the midst of proceedings for six of the outposts served. All nine have previously been served with zoning notices, the last one as recently as in 2007. The notices have all since expired and new ones had to be issued. Notices are expected to be served against five more outposts over the coming days, according to the Civil Administration. Earlier Monday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that he would not give settlers living in unauthorized outposts any ultimatums nor would there be warnings as to when evacuations are to commence. However, "dialogue with the Yesha Council is key to try and resolve this," Barak said. Speaking on Army Radio, the defense minister went on to reiterate Israel's obligation to evacuate illegal outposts. "We have commitments from previous governments to the Road Map. That is the context of our action." "The important thing that needs to happen now is that the government must undertake peace efforts as brought forth in the Road Map. Then we should evacuate," Barak said in the interview. In light of worldwide criticism of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu who has to date not uttered the words 'two-state solution' when referring to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as prescribed by the Road Map and as undertaken by previous governments, Barak said "we've been saying 'two states' the whole time. Saying these words will not make the Palestinians embrace us nor will they magically make the Iranians stop their nuclear program." "In the White House sits a serious man," Barak said of President Barack Obama, commenting on Netanyahu's recent visit to Washington and increasing calls by US officials to halt settlement activity. "We need to sow intimacy between Israel and the US," he continued. "We need it for combating the Iranian threat and for achieving peace with the Palestinians. Netanyahu has serious considerations and tough decisions to make." "America needs to know that we are committed to peace. When they see that we are committed to the Road Map, when they see that we want to advance a comprehensive agreement, that we want to see a thriving Palestinian economy, they will lessen the pressure regarding settlement expansion for reasons of natural population growth. It is a valid reason," Barak added.