One outpost evacuated ahead of Bush visit

Right-wing activists say outposts established to protest US demand to dismantle settlements.

outposts 224 (photo credit: Channel 1 [file])
outposts 224
(photo credit: Channel 1 [file])
Despite promises by Israel to crack down on West Bank outposts, a handful of them established in the days leading up to President George Bush's visits remained standing Wednesday. Of the 10 known outposts set up in advance of the visit, only one was evacuated Wednesday, police said. On Tuesday evening, right-wing activists set up two new outposts, near Efrat and Psagot. The activists said that they planned to expand 10 more existing outposts. Earlier this week, Deputy Prime Minister Haim Ramon had said that the government might dismantle about two dozen unauthorized outposts as early as next week. Samaria and Judea District police said Wednesday that while one small outpost near Hebron had been evacuated earlier in the day, no more outposts would be evacuated before police and IDF held a situation assessment and deemed the time appropriate to do so. It was the IDF that determined the timetable for such operations, said district spokesman Ch.-Supt. Dani Poleg. Some right-wing activists linked the outpost building campaign directly to Bush's visit, arguing repeatedly that they would continue building to protest the US demand that West Bank building be frozen. Both Pinchas Wallerstein, Director-General of the Council of Jewish Settlements in Judea, Samaria and Gaza and Dani Dayan, chairman of the council, said that it was legitimate to establish new outposts in Judea and Samaria as a form of demonstration against government policies. "We know that these outposts will not turn into viable settlements," said Wallerstein. "But we do it anyway because the purpose of these outposts is to increase consciousness in the Israeli public about the settlers' cause." But Wallerstein said that he was opposed to attacks by more extremist settlement leaders against US President George Bush. 'I might not like Bush's policy on settlements," said Wallerstein. "But we cannot deny that he is the only major world leader who is on our side against enemies such as Iran." Wallerstein said that pictures posted by right- wing activists showing Bush wearing a keffiyeh were incitement and inappropriate. 'It is totally legitimate to demonstrate against the government's anti-settlement policy and against Bush's road map. But we should remember that Bush believes in the Bible and he openly talks of Jewish land, something which many of our own politicians don't do." Dayan said that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's government pushed Bush to adopt an anti-settlement policy. "The president of the US cannot be more Zionist than Israel's own government," he said. While the council is not planning demonstrations to coincide with Bush's visit, other organizations are planning a large rally in Jerusalem's Zion Square. Rabbi Shalom Dov Wolpe, a former Chabad rabbi and head of the World Headquarters for Saving the Land of Israel, and Rabbi Dov Lior, Chief Rabbi of Hebron-Kiryat Arba, will attend the rally. The rabbis will present Bush with a Bible inscribed with the words: "God Decreed: The Land of Israel for the People of Israel."