Daily Israel Report

Gov't Ministers Oppose Barak's Demolition of Civilian Outposts

While Def. Min. Barak threatens to continue destroying Yesha neighborhoods, and amidst reports that Netanyahu backs him, many ministers oppose.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 5/24/2009, 11:37 AM

As Defense Minister Ehud Barak threatens to continue destroying Jewish outpost neighborhoods in Judea and Samaria (Yesha), many government ministers have come out against him. He may have the support of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, however.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Leiberman said Sunday morning, “For us to return to the pre-‘67 borders, as the U.S. is pressuring us, means simply transferring the conflict to within the ’67 borders. There must be a comprehensive plan, and not just a removal of an outpost here or an outpost there. I believe that the Road Map is the right plan, even if it includes removing outposts – but destroying outposts should not be done sporadically because one person wants to.”

Hershkowitz: Outposts are Wrongly Classified as Illegal
Rabbi Prof. Daniel Hershkowitz, Minister of Science and head of the Jewish Home party said, “Yes, we must keep the law. But if you look at the outposts, you’ll see that their classification as illegal was made by Talia Sasson [admittedly left-wing author of a report on the outposts for Ariel Sharon’s government in 2005 – ed.], who is not exactly an objective source. Often, the only reason for an outpost’s classification as illegal is not because of the residents themselves, but because of a technical government problem, and there is truly no legal problem at all.”

Interior Minister Eli Yishai: “There must be equal enforcement of the law, but I don’t believe it is right at this time to dismantle outposts. Not every one can do what he wants.”

Netanyahu has said in closed sessions, according to a Voice of Israel report, that he “backs Barak” in his quest to remove small Jewish residential outposts throughout Judea and Samaria.  Likud party sources say that Netanyahu apparently promised U.S. President Barack Obama, in their meeting in Washington last week, that he would remove outposts. A day after Netanyahu returned from Washington, police forces destroyed five houses and the synagogue in Meoz Esther, near Kokhav HaShachar in eastern Binyamin, as well as a school building in Tel Tzion.

Barak, for his part, says that another 22 outposts are on the chopping block: “This is not an issue between us and the Americans, or us and the Palestinians, but only among ourselves.  Talia Sasson and Ariel Sharon determined that these are illegal, and we have to maintain the law.  We have evacuated three outposts, and reached an agreement on another.  There are 22 more, which we will either reach an agreement on or we will destroy by force.”

Pioneers Plan to Build New Ones
Army Radio reports that “nationalist groups” say they will build new settlement outposts in the coming days.

Minister Moshe Yaalon, who served as IDF Chief of Staff, said on Thursday that the government will not allow illegal settlements, “as we proved this week.” However, he said, “The settlements are not the reason that the peace process has failed. We will not stop construction in Jewish towns in the framework of natural growth.”

“The settlements were never, at any stage, an obstacle to peace,” Yaalon said. “Even when Israel emptied out areas, the terrorism continued, and when we uprooted Jewish towns, we received Hamastan.”