Activists finished building 11 new outposts in Judea and Samaria Monday night in time for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's meeting with U.S. special envoy George Mitchell Tuesday morning. The name of the project, dubbed "Operation 11" by the Youth for Israel movement, was meant as a reference to 11 communities that were built overnight in the Negev during the time of the British Mandate.
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Most of the builders were young, teenagers and adults in their 20's. While they hurriedly put the structures together, others were demonstrating outside the Jerusalem home of the prime minister.
The IDF had already pulled down two of the new outposts by night's end. One was Netzer, located between Alon Shvut and Efrat, in Gush Etzion. However, at least one Israeli newspaper claimed the IDF did nothing to stop the pioneers from building an outpost at Tzurya, near the Samarian Jewish community of Avnei Hefetz and the Arab city of Tulkarm. Some 200 people, including men, women and children arrived Monday to participate in the building of Tzurya.
Other outposts established Monday night were Inbalim, near Ma'ale Michmash, Givat Egoz near Neriya, and Oz Yonaton, near Kochav Ya'akov. Others that were still being worked on Tuesday morning included the Judean community of Mitzpeh Avichai, near Hevron, and the Samarian communities of Nofei Yarden, near Shilo and Reches Sela, south of Shechem.
Netanyahu, Mitchell Meet in Jerusalem
As the youths vowed to maintain a round-the-clock presence at the sites of the new outposts, the prime minister met to discuss that and other matters with U.S. special envoy George Mitchell in Jerusalem. A crowd of nearly 2,000 people demonstrated in front of the American Consulate in Jerusalem against the U.S. stance on Jewish settlement in Yesha.
The issue of the Jewish presence in Judea, Samaria and parts of Jerusalem that were restored to Israel as a result of the 1967 Six Day War has been a special bone of contention from Day One between the Netanyahu and Obama administrations. Nevertheless, the Prime Minister's Office said following the two and a half-hour meeting that the encounter was positive and that other issues -- such as Mitchell's visits to Syria, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority -- had also been discussed.
Mitchell told reporters that progress was made, and that the two men plan to meet again in August.
According to a report published Tuesday by the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper, Mitchell recommended an 18-month timetable for talks between Israel and the PA during his meeting Monday with officials in Ramallah.