Embattled DM Peretz Charging Ahead with Outpost Evacuation

Much of the country finds Amir Peretz unfit to hold the Defense portfolio. The embattled DM plans to evacuate outposts as his next initiative.

Alex Traiman,

Even as the majority of the country believes Labor Chairman Amir Peretz is unfit to run the defense portfolio, the embattled Minister of Defense is trying to improve his standing within his party and the general populace by charging ahead with several new initiatives.

Within the next several weeks, Peretz plans on removing outposts deemed illegal - small Jewish satellite communities in Judea and Samaria built after 2001 - and traveling to the Pentagon. In a new blow to his standing, Peretz was photographed gazing through capped binoculars, nodding as Ashkenazi explained what the two were "looking at."

The Israeli daily Hebrew newspaper Yediot Acharonot reports that Peretz "plans to go all the way on the issue of illegal outposts, and in full force," according to the Minister's aides. "He has been saying that illegal outposts must be evacuated for a long time, but now is the time to implement it. We cannot continue stalling. He is ready to do this even at the cost of a conflict with the prime minister."

Furthermore, negotiations with the leaders of the communities slated for expulsion have led nowhere, leading the defense minister to the conclusion, according to his associates, that "there will be no choice but to evacuate outposts without an agreement and without understandings."

Peretz's initiative is one of several the staggering Defense Minister is taking to improve his image following the Lebanon War, seen by much of the public as a failure. Peretz as well as Prime Minister Ehud Olmert have fallen tremendously in popularity polls since the war ended.

Several internal military investigations charged Israel with failing to clearly set and achieve objectives during the war, including the total disarmament of Hizbullah along the southern Lebanese border, and the return of captive soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev.

Analysts are now waiting for the government-appointed Winograd Commission of Inquiry to present its preliminary findings into the 2006 Lebanon War failures. Many expect much of the blame to fall on Peretz's shoulders, and believe Peretz will be fired from his post, or will be forced to resign the Defense Ministry.

The BBC reports that according to the photographer, Peretz looked through the closed binoculars on multiple occasions, nodding as Ashkenazi explained what the two were "looking at."

Advisors to the Defense Minister are now trying to plan a trip to the U.S. Pentagon to help shore up Peretz's image as a competent defense leader. Prior to his appointment to the country's top security post, Peretz had little experience as an army officer, and served for many years at the head of the country's Histadrut Labor Union.