Four Cabinet ministers toured several of the outposts that were termed “unauthorized” in a report by Meretz Knesset candidate Talia Sasson, and said that a new report is needed. Sasson prepared the report seven years ago at the request of then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
The four ministers who were hosted by leaders of the Jewish settlement enterprise in the Shomron (Samaria) are Moshe Yaalon and Yuli Edelstein of the Likud, Eli Yishai of Shas, and Daniel Herskovitz of the Jewish Home. They were hosted by Shomron Regional Council head Gershon Mesika, and Amanah settlement organization head Zev Chever (Zambish) and veteran Yesha Council leader Pinchas Wallerstein were on hand as well.
Video: Gov't Minister Yuli Edelstein says, "Soon... understandings with the American administration will be reached, and we'll be able to develop Jewish communities in Samaria, Judea and definitely in Jerusalem..."
The tour took place in Rechelim, Bruchin, and Nofei Nechemiah – all listed as illegal or unauthorized outposts that must be destroyed. Rechelim, near Tapuach, was established in 1991 and has 45 families; Bruchin, 1999, west of Ariel, has 100 families; and Nofei Nechemiah, founded in 2002-3, has 21 families.
Minister Edelstein recalled that in the previous Knesset, he established the "Homesh First" forum: "It was a mistake to destroy Homesh, and the government should now rebuild it," he said. Minister Herskovitz said, "No other country would allow other countries to let it determine where its citizens should live."
During the tour, the ministers escaped injury when Arab terrorists threw a firebomb at security vehicle escorting them. No damage or injuries were reported.
Yaalon on Homesh, Outposts, and the Conflict
The ministers also visited the Gilad Farm, as well as Homesh, the full-fledged town that was destroyed in the Disengagement four years ago. Former residents and other supporters have attempted to resettle the site over the past two years, facing opposition and repeated evacuations on the part of the army. Yaalon, Minister of Strategic Affairs, stated that he thinks that rebuilding Homesh should be considered.
He added, “We were mistaken in thinking that the battle [with the Arabs] is over part of the Land of Israel. It is over the entire Land of Israel.” He explained how important it is that Israel control the mountain ridge heights.
Speaking from Homesh with Voice of Israel radio, Yaalon explained that the only reason many of the outposts are not yet legal is because of missing paperwork: “The people who live there received government mortgages, and water and electricity were hooked up by Israel’s water and electric companies, and the Housing Ministry built many of the housing projects. Israel must explain to the Americans that they are legal.”
Understandings with the U.S.
Analyst Dr. Aaron Lerner of IMRA writes, “A reading of the exchange of letters between Israel and the United States finds that Israel did not commit to physically remove the ‘unapproved’ outposts, but just to end the existence of ‘unapproved’ outposts. This can be achieved by changing their status to ‘approved.’ This is not a new concept; negotiations between Defense Minister Barak and Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria always were on the basis that the status of some outposts would be changed to ‘approved’ and thus removed from the list.”
Interior Minister Yishai said, “There is no such thing as an illegal outpost. We must tell the truth to the public and to the Americans. These are sites that were established by the Government of Israel, and they should be further developed.”
This is Minister Yishai’s second visit in one week to controversial areas in Judea and Samaria. Touring Maaleh Adumim last week, Yishai said that construction must continue “at least in the future settlement blocs,” even if the United States cannot be persuaded of its importance.