Yesha Council Denies Outpost-Dismantling Report
Danny Dayan, head of the Yesha Council of Jewish Communities in Judea/Samaria, denies reports that an agreement has been reached regarding the peaceful dismantling of Jewish outposts.
A Monday report in Haaretz quoted sources close to Defense Minister Ehud Barak as saying that an agreement had been reached between his office and representatives of the Yesha Council. The purported agreement stipulates that no resistance would be offered by Jewish residents to the dismantling of 18 outposts throughout Judea and Samaria. In exchange, Barak reportedly agreed to allow some construction - currently frozen throughout Yesha.
Yesha Council head Danny Dayan told Arutz-7, however, that the above is simply not true. "There have been many negotiating sessions with Barak's people," Dayan said, "and it is possible to reach agreements - but this has not been done. It does not even appear that there will be any further talks in the near future."
26 Jewish Locations in Dispute
Hundreds of residents live in some 26 contested outposts throughout Judea and Samaria. Dayan explained to Arutz-7 that these 26 are on the chopping block "because they were built after March 1, 2001" - the date ex-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon promised U.S. President George Bush that no new communities would be built. The ultra-left Peace Now organization has long demanded, in its quest to de-Judaize Judea and Samaria, that these and other Jewish outposts be destroyed.
This coming February 6 is a significant date, because the Supreme Court is expected to rule then on the legality of one of the largest Jewish outposts in Judea and Samaria - Migron, with some 45 families. Though some of the land was definitely purchased by Jews, the Court is expected to rule that other parts of the community are situated on private, Arab-owned land. It could be, however, that the Court will, as it has done several times in the past, postpone a final ruling on the matter.
Migron is considered a strategically-critical Jewish town, situated on a hilltop overlooking the main highway from Jerusalem to Beit El, Ofrah, Shilo and other towns in Shomron. Its 45 families have not been permitted to increase their numbers over the past several years.
No one expects the dismantling of Migron to go over without an Amona-style fight. Two years ago, Amona was the scene of a very violent clash between police and army forces, on the one hand, and many hundreds of Land of Israel supporters who came to protest the government's eviction of nine Jewish families from their homes. Amona is situated just above the veteran community of Ofrah; Migron is located less than ten kilometers directly south of Amona.
Possibly the second-largest of the 26 contested outpost neighborhoods is Givat Assaf. Its 18 families live in another vital strategic position - along the Jerusalem-Ofrah highway, at the turnoff to Beit El. The neighborhood is named for Assaf Hershkovitz, who was murdered by Palestinian terrorists in 2001 just past the site of the present-day neighborhood. Just three months earlier, Assaf's father had been murdered in a similar road-side terrorist shooting, near the Atarot airport in northern Jerusalem.
Dayan said that he and his colleagues in Yesha demand that all outposts on state-owned land - which are most of them - be immediately approved, and that an acceptable relocation solution be found for the others.
Olmert and Barak
Tensions between Prime Minister Olmert and Defense Minister Barak on the issue of the outposts have recently surfaced. Olmert said on Sunday that it is a "disgrace" that the "unauthorized outposts" have not been dismantled all these years - while Barak staffers say that whoever suggests dismantling outposts without dialogue with the "settlers" reveals signs of "light-headedness."
It will be recalled that one of Olmert's first acts as Prime Minister two years ago was to order the violent destruction of the nine Amona houses, leading to hundreds of wounded.