Tuesday, March 15, 2005

They Can Destroy Palestinian Homes
in Less Than 24 Hours

By GREG MYRE

“It all continues; nothing has stopped. Let no one be fooled that just because a report has been published, and is being discussed nicely on television, that it means this has been brought to an end.”


“The Israeli cabinet pledged Sunday to dismantle two dozen illegal settlement outposts established in the West Bank since Ariel Sharon became prime minister in 2001. But ministers did not set a timetable or announce the fate of 80 other outposts.

The cabinet decision was the strongest public commitment to remove at least some of the more recent settlement outposts, as demanded by the Middle East peace plan, known as the road map.

"The first stage of the road map requires that Israel dismantle unauthorized outposts which were established since March 2001, and the government of Israel will honor this commitment," said the measure approved by the cabinet.

The cabinet acted just five days after Talia Sasson, a former state prosecutor, presented Mr. Sharon with a sharply critical report identifying 105 outposts that were established in past decade and received government assistance in "blatant violation of the law."

However, any government action against the outposts appeared to be months away at the earliest.

The Gaza pullout plan has provoked huge protests from settlers and their right-wing supporters, and taking down the West Bank outposts would further inflame passions.

The settlers in the outposts include some of the most radical and hard-core elements in the settler movement. In the past, they have fiercely resisted the dismantling of outposts.

Matan Vilnai, a cabinet minister from the center-left Labor Party, said the government should not delay in dealing with the outposts. "We need to take immediate action, and see what we can do in parallel to the disengagement from Gaza," he said.

Meanwhile, Ms. Sasson said she was still skeptical about the government's intention to act against the outposts.

"It all continues; nothing has stopped," she told Israeli television. "Let no one be fooled that just because a report has been published, and is being discussed nicely on television, that it means this has been brought to an end."

Since Israel captured the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the 1967 war, the government has approved the building of some 150 settlements, which now house some 240,000 Jews. In addition, more than 200,000 Israelis now live in East Jerusalem, which Israel annexed after the war.

Facing international pressure, Israel in the mid-1990's pledged not to build new settlements. But settlers quickly began establishing unauthorized outposts in the West Bank.

An estimated 2,000 Israelis now live in the outposts. They account for less than 1 percent of the settlers in the West Bank. However, many of today's large, formal settlements began as small outposts.

The Palestinians seek a state that includes all of the West Bank and Gaza, and are adamantly opposed to the outposts as well as the formal settlements. The United Nations considers all Israeli settlements illegal, and the United States calls them an obstacle to peace.

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/14/international/middleeast/14mideast.html
con·cept: They Can Destroy Palestinian Homes in Less Than 24 Hours