'Evacuate all outposts in few weeks'

Peres calls for removal of all outposts; MoD drafting plans to clear out 24.

outpost evacuation 298 (photo credit: Jewish Community of Hebron [file])
outpost evacuation 298
(photo credit: Jewish Community of Hebron [file])
All of the illegal outposts in Judea and Samaria will be evacuated in the next few weeks, said Vice Prime Minister Shimon Peres in a Sunday interview with Israel Radio. He noted that Israel had made a commitment to the US on the matter, and added that in his opinion, the outposts should be evacuated before the convergence plan is implemented. The Defense Ministry is drafting plans to evacuate 24 out of about 105 outposts. However, the evacuation plan has yet to be completed or formally approved. No date has been set for the removal of the unauthorized outposts, constructed after former prime minister Ariel Sharon took office in March 2001. A government source told the Jerusalem Post that negotiations with the settlers regarding the fate of the outposts were ongoing on condition that the settlers allow for the peaceful evacuation of the 24 outposts. According to the source, the government is hoping to secure an agreement with the settlers by which the fate of the remaining 81 outposts would be determined as part of the realignment plan. Binyamin Regional Council head Pinchas Wallerstein said that settler leaders had no interest in reaching a compromise on the issue of the outposts. Last Wednesday, the Civil Administration renewed and issued demolition orders for 18 homes at the Maon Farm outpost so that the orders handed down last year would not expire. The Civil Administration spokesman said that his office did not have the power to demolish the outpost and could only issue orders that would allow its destruction by the IDF. Settler leaders are holding talks with the government to prevent destruction of the Maon Farm outpost and to establish a line of communication between the two parties, said Wallerstein. "Evacuating an outpost is the same thing as evacuating a settlement," he said. Former foreign minister Silvan Shalom said in the same broadcast that neither the Jordanians, Egyptians nor the Palestinians accept the convergence plan. Shalom also noted that if Israel withdraws from the West Bank and Hamas fills the resulting power vacuum, it will send the message that terror pays.