Israel to evacuate all outposts 21Jul09 July 22, 2009

Khaleej Times
21 July 2009

Migron settlement

Israel plans to remove in a single day all 23 unauthorised settler outposts slated for evacuation in the occupied West Bank, a move that would meet a long-standing pledge to Washington, a newspaper said on Tuesday.
The report in Haaretz gave no date for removing the outposts, where some of the most militant settlers in the West Bank live, but said the military held an exercise last week to prepare for their evacuation.

Haaretz, a left-leaning newspaper, said the military was preparing to “forcibly evacuate 23 illegal outposts in one day. The plan was formulated by the security establishment, with the knowledge of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu”.

Israel has come under increasing diplomatic pressure from its main U.S. ally to halt all settlement building in the West Bank to spur peace efforts with the Palestinians.

Netanyahu has so far refused to commit to a total freeze, in the most serious rift between Israel and the United States, its main ally, in a decade.

In May, Deputy Defence Minister Matan Vilnai said the removal of the outposts, often a cluster of caravans on isolated hilltops built without government authorisation, had become a “central issue” for the Netanyahu’s administration.

“The report sounds totally illusionary,” said settler leader Pinhas Wallerstein. But he told Army Radio that settlers could be “partners to painful agreements, although not as a result of American pressure”.


The Defence Ministry says it will not reveal the locations of all the outposts to maintain an element of surprise but they include those built after March 2001, a group that Israel committed to remove during the administration of former U.S. president George W. Bush.

The evacuation is expected to be met with resistance from the settlers. Wallerstein said that some 8,000 people live at the outposts.

On Monday, Israeli settlers on horseback set fire to at least 1,500 Palestinian-owned olive trees in the West Bank and others stoned cars, a Palestinian security official said.

Israeli media reports said the rampage was a response by settlers to the army’s destruction hours earlier of a caravan at a settlement outpost.

The Haaretz report was written by one of its most respected columnists, Yoel Marcus, who was also the first to disclose the plans of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to withdraw soldiers and settlers from the Gaza Strip, a plan that came to fruition in 2005.


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