The issue of dismantlement of outposts that are being variously termed "unauthorized" and "illegal" has garnered considerable attention at present for several reasons.
A ministerial committee on unauthorized outposts is looking into the legality of some 100 outposts and says it hopes to complete its work within three months — just in time (surprise!) for the Bush-initiated international conference on the Israel-Palestinian conflict. This committee is being chaired by Olmert flunky Vice Premier Haim Ramon. Ramon says it is not within the jurisdiction of his committee to decide what gets dismantled, but rather that this should be decided by Olmert and/or Barak.
There is talk of Defense Minister Barak giving an order before very long with regard to dismantlement of some 26 outposts.
The move to remove outposts is predicated on a promise that was given to the US gov’t by the Sharon gov’t in 2004. There was a letter from Dov Weisglass, chief Sharon aide, to Condoleezza Rice, who was then National Security Advisor, regarding the removal of unauthorized outposts. But the definition of "unauthorized" was not provided and is far more complicated than most people realize.
Do not imagine, please, that there are some settlements that "have permission" to exist, and others that flatly do not. The setting up of settlements is a bureaucratic process that is extremely complicated. Multiple authorizations are required — likely involving (I am providing general examples only here) proof of land ownership, permission from the water authority and agreement from the electrical authority, construction of a road to the site by the proper agency, permission from the housing authority to bring in concrete trucks, etc. etc. All settlements have followed these procedures, and even those that are now deemed thoroughly "legal" went through this process one step at a time.
The overwhelming majority of outposts considered to be potentially "unauthorized" have at least some documents and some authorization from agencies within the Israeli government! The decision to label a new settlement as "unauthorized" is as much political as it is legal. This has been explained to me by a top-flight Israeli lawyer. It would be just as possible to determine that the land is legally owned by the Jews involved and that a number of authorizations are already in place, and to thus decide that the settlement should be deemed "kosher" and permitted to proceed, as to say that such and such a piece of paper is not in place and so the venture is "unauthorized."
MK Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beitenu), who is also a member of the committee, argues that that body and not either Olmert or Barak should have the final say on what gets evacuated. Reflecting what I’ve explained here, he said, "You have to understand, it’s impossible to establish any outposts without some kinds of state help."
Pushing for agreements with the settlers, he insisted, "This is not the time for internal disagreements and struggles. He considers the forced evacuation of up to 7,000 settlers to be "mission impossible" and charges those who are promoting this with seeking to garner political gain.
Why is there movement towards dismantlement now? Because the US is pressuring Olmert, who aims to please. The American gov’t is declaring itself happy that at least some attention is being given to the matter. Once the political echelon gives the OK on this some weeks down the road, it is anticipated that action might follow within weeks thereafter.
What for me is sickening is this: The army is drawing up final plans, and awaiting orders to proceed. One high level army official said they are anticipating "extreme violence."
This is what we need now, right? Jew against Jew again. Thousands of soldiers being trained and dispatched to pull Jews out of their homes, when those Jews don’t want to go. I’ve raised the issue before with regard to Hevron and it applies here as well — just as it applied to Gush Katif. This is not the job of the army. It demoralizes our troops. The IDF is supposed to defend Jews, not take them on.
Yet the IDF, which is being prepared for this, is not being utilized by Olmert as it should be to defend our people (see below). Our prime minister’s priorities are shameful.
I note here that in most democracies in the world — or perhaps all other democracies, but I hesitate to be so absolute — it is illegal to use the army in an action against the civilian population; this sort of action is reserved for police. The reason — totally aside from concerns about demoralizing troops who need to be strong for defense — is concern about the possibilities of a coup. The army only defends the nation, nothing else.
About the failure of Olmert to use the IDF with strength where it should be used: We are looking at Sderot.
School started in this Negev city bordering Gaza yesterday. It started with considerable angst being expressed by parents about the safety of their children being sent to school.
Yesterday two Kassam were fired from Gaza. Today, seven Kassams were shot towards Sderot. The children found themselves under fire. One alarm went off while the children were on their way to school and they had to scurry to get to shelters; they began their day in hysterics. One rocket landed near a day care center; 12 toddlers and babies — some terrified to the point of shock — had to be evacuated.
Now parents, who are furious at not having their children protected, have decided to keep them home. Batya Katar, head of the Sderot Parents Association, said all 2,500 of the town’s students would be taken out of school.
What should Olmert be doing?
Above and beyond anything else, he should be giving the order for the major operation in Gaza that the Southern Command of the IDF has trained for and is itching to do. What sort of head of government allows attack on the nation’s civilian population — on its children!! — without declaring war?
What was done? Well, 200 soldiers were dispatched when school began, to accompany students to school. And attack helicopters hovered all day, while the IDF struck at some launchers.
Intoned Olmert: “We will not put up with this attack. The IDF has been instructed to destroy all launchers and target anyone involved in the attacks."
Olmert even had the nerve to refer to large sums of money spent on fortification of the schools. The reality is that the High Court — in response to a parents’ petition — had ordered the State to fortify the nine schools in Sderot, but only four have been fortified in total (with lower grades protected in all). The government has requested and received a 21 day extension to respond to the order. Said Olmert: "This is a government decision and we will not fortify ourselves senseless." Senseless?
I would like to return here to the issue of the up-coming international conference and its prospects for forging a Palestinian state. Some rumors have us on the edge establishing that state.
However Olmert is attempting to play down expectations . In the course of comments about Sderot, he also said that his meetings with Abbas have been "very interesting and meaningful," but that they were not ready to put anything into writing yet. He wasn’t sure if they would be able to draft a document before November, "but we will try."
his, of course, flies in the face of the claims, leaked from the Palestinian side, that a deal had already been drafted on paper.
Abbas is also indicating that there is no written agreement yet — or at least no agreement that encompasses all issues. At a press conference yesterday, he said, "We are concerned that November 15 will come – if this will indeed be the date for this international conference – without arriving at a specific agreement on all the issues, and that this meeting will be described as a failure."
But Abbas — whose goal is not playing down expectations but rather pushing things along — carried it one step further: "We need a framework agreement with a timeline for implementation."
In his dreams, a timeline for implementation , when he cannot deliver on anything. My take here is that he’s in an enormous rush to sign a done deal before he is taken down by Hamas. He has no time. And he’s quite worried.
To illustrate precisely how "iffy" prospects of an agreement on peace are, I offer the following:
An article in Haaretz today indicates that Olmert’s attempts to establish an agreement on principles before the conference are generating discontent within Olmert’s own Kadima party.
"According to party sources , a number of MKs and ministers have raised concern that Olmert is proceeding without sufficient backing inside Kadima, which they warn may pose a threat to the party’s future.
"Among the Kadima MKs and ministers who have expressed concern, mostly over press reports on developments in the Olmert-Abbas talks, are MK Marina Solodkin, MK David Tal, MK Otniel Schneller, MK Ze’ev Elkin, MK Shaim Hermesh, and Minister of Public Security Avi Dichter."
One unnamed Kadima source said , "This could be dynamite inside the party and bring about divisions. This could be just like after the disengagement for Likud. The implication for the Prime Minister leading along a path that does not go through his party can be disastrous. He needs to take into account that there is opposition inside Kadima. We are not Meretz [a very left wing party]."
In addition to this, Minister Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beitenu), who is part of the coalition, has expressed his party’s objections to the talks.
According to a Palestinian news agency , PA (Fatah) Preventive Security officers in Judea and Samaria say they have abducted members of Hamas who have confessed that they have a revolutionary plan: "The leaders of Hamas want to transfer the ‘Black Power’ experience from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank." I.e., they want to take over PA areas of Judea and Samaria.
It is not for nothing that Abbas feels he has no time to spare.
Meanwhile, Hamas has denied this (of course), saying Fatah tortured their men to extract these false confessions.