Daily Israel Report

Many Gov´t Offices Involved in "Unauthorized" Outposts

"There are two peoples racing for the land, and while the Arab runner runs without any law or restrictions, the Jewish runner is bound hand and foot by a thousand bureaucracies and regulations."
First Publish: 3/9/2005, 5:42 PM / Last Update: 3/9/2005, 11:09 AM

So says former MK Atty. Elyakim HaEtzni, speaking last night about the report on "unauthorized outposts"' that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon received yesterday. Sharon and the report's author, Atty. Talia Sasson of the State Prosecution, held a press conference today on the report. Sharon said he will raise the issue in next week's Cabinet meeting.

Sasson, a long-time opponent of settlement in Judea and Samaria (Yesha), recommended in her report that the World Zionist Organization Settlement Division, which authorized the construction of "illegal outposts" in Yesha, should be closed.

The Settlement Division has operated as an arm of the Government of Israel since 1967, and the government oversees its activities, policy and budget.

Sasson said today that there are at least 105 "unauthorized" neighborhoods in Yesha, and accused the Housing Ministry of planning them even though no Cabinet decision was made on the matter.

The neighborhoods in question are usually located just outside full-fledged communities in Yesha, and range in size from one or two structures to up to 43 families (in Migron, just north of Jerusalem). Several of them are populated by 10-20 families, have received many government permits and services such as roads, electricity and more, and yet live under constant threat of sudden demolition. Among these are Givat Assaf outside Beit El, Givat HaRoeh west of Shilo, and Sdei Boaz outside N'vei Daniel.

The Outposts Aid Center of the Land of Israel Task Force said in response, "The Sasson Report is distorted and invalid, for having been ordered by Sharon - the one who initiated, approved, built and budgeted the outposts... Sasson mentions that Sharon, Ben-Eliezer and Mofaz knew of and approved all the outposts. According to the law that applies in Yesha, their approval is sufficient to legalize the outposts."

Housing Minister Yitzchak Herzog (Labor) said this morning that he will block all financial allocations towards the outposts, as a result of the report. Transportation Minister Meir Sheetrit (Likud) also jumped on the Sasson bandwagon, saying the "waste of money on the outposts is scandalous."

The 300-page Sasson report details an institutionalized system of the provision of services to the outposts she termed unauthorized. Many bodies were named in the report, including the Defense Ministry, the IDF, the Civil Administration, the police, and the Ministries of Housing, Infrastructures, Education, Industry, Religious Affairs and Finance.

MK Zevulun Orlev (NRP) said, "The Sasson Report uncovers the epitome of hypocrisy. It proves that the residents of Yesha acted with total authority and permission of the Governments of Israel. Now, the government tries to portray the settlers as lawbreakers, when in reality the fault is the government's."

Atty. HaEtzni, speaking with Arutz-7 last night, said, "This reminds me of the Jews in exile... squeezed of all their property and then expelled. The residents of Yesha are the same. How did they suddenly become public enemy #1? Why are the Bedouin allowed to take over the lands of the Galilee and the Negev? And in Yesha too, the Arabs take over lands and steal state-owned lands and no one cares. There are two peoples racing for the land, and while the Arab runner runs without any law or restrictions, the Jewish runner is bound hand and foot by a thousand bureaucracies and regulations."

HaEtzni said that the current legal situation in Yesha is a nonsensical jumble: "After the Six-Day War, Israel applied an impossible legal situation. International law recognizes 'conquered territories,' but Israel called them 'occupied territories' – a phrase that doesn't exist in the world. Therefore, Israel is always twisting and turning from a legal standpoint because it is not willing to admit that this is our land, nor that it has conquered these areas. We therefore have to do everything under the table, like we always did. In the days of the Turks, we had to first build a roof, because a structure with a roof was forbidden to be razed. Under the British, we had the White Papers, and settlement continued only under the table. Now, we are an independent State and we have returned to the heart of our Land – we have returned to the days of the Turks and the British."

"Most of the settlements in Yesha were built according to a hodgepodge of Jordanian law, military law and some Israeli laws... Another aspect is that the people in power during the Six Day War – Dayan, Rabin, Galili – still had Jewish sentiments. They were split in their hearts... So they gave a little and withheld a little. They agreed to an interim situation and when we created facts on the ground, they were happy to accept them, and even helped out.

"But later a new generation arose, detached from all Jewish roots in the Land of Israel... At the same time, the Bush Administration began, for the first time, calling us conquerors... Sharon was careful not to sign anything [regarding the establishment of new settlements] himself; even though he agreed to everything and gave advice and all, all the signatures are those of [his underlings]. Even Fuad [Labor's Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, a former Defense Minister] also helped us build many times. There is always this two-facedness, and this is what Sasson discovered.

"What really amazes me is that Sharon knew all along what Sasson would discover. After all, if he wants to take down all these settlements, all he needs is a bulldozer. Why did he ask for this report which points right back to him? Why does he let the Americans find out that that it was he, whose guidelines stipulate that there won't be new towns, is the one who allowed them behind the scenes? He is humiliating himself."