Defense Minister Orders Destruction

Though put on hold with the outbreak of fighting in Gaza and Lebanon, the Olmert administration's plan to destroy Jewish hilltop communities is back on the table.

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Ezra HaLevi, | updated: 19:11


Defense Minister Amir Peretz issued a directive Monday night authorizing IDF officials to destroy 90 homes and structures in Judea and Samaria termed illegal or unauthorized by the Civil Administration.

Peretz’s associates claim that not only Jewish communities would come under the treads of IDF bulldozers, but illegal Arab building as well. The locations of the structures were not released to the public.

Peretz gave the IDF leeway in carrying out the demolitions, authorizing IDF officials to move according to their own timetable.

National Union Chairman MK Uri Ariel attacked the decision, which he said was a renewal of the pre-war plan to destroy communities such as Maaleh Rechavam in eastern Gush Etzion, the Maon Farm in the Hevron Hills and the Skali Farm in the Shomron.

“At a time when we need to unite for the release of our captives and against the threat of terrorism and Iranian attack, Amir Peretz chooses to defy and provoke half the nation,” Ariel said. “We demand the suspension of the new destruction initiative.”

It is unclear how Peretz’s actions fit in with the Ministerial Committee on Outposts’ review of the Justice Ministry’s recommendations. Theoretically, the structures slated for demolition may include all of the communities listed as “unauthorized” by the Sasson Report and located outside the route of the Partition Wall.

The Land of Israel Legal Forum recently filed a brief and requested a meeting with the ministerial committee, explaining that the outposts are in fact legal and the methods used to classify them used retroactive implementation of recent legal decisions.

Analysts note that Peretz may be seeking to drive a wedge between Kadima and the right-wing parties currently being courted by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to replace Labor, should such a move prove necessary for Olmert to maintain power.

The destruction of Jewish homes in Judea and Samaria at this time is expected to draw an even stronger response than the clashes at Amona last February in which hundreds of protestors and scores of police officers were wounded.