The state's pledge to the High Court of Justice to remove all outposts on private Palestinian land should raise at least two questions: Why did the state have to wait for a High Court order to acknowledge the illegality of the outposts, and why must it wait until the end of 2011 to remove them?
For years, the state has possessed documents attesting to the illegality of those outposts. Moreover, the government itself pledged to the High Court and the U.S. government a number of times in the past decade that it would act to remove them. In only a few cases did the government show a willingness to keep its promises. But for each structure demolished, it permitted the construction of hundreds and perhaps thousands of new ones as it took administrative steps to legitimize the legality of many other outposts and even announced its intention to do so in the future.
The government usually explained its lack of action by saying that "in any case" a final-status agreement would soon be signed with the Palestinians, so unnecessary clashes with the settlers had no point. If the government had proved its sincere intent to move negotiations ahead with the Palestinians, if the government had agreed to a continued building freeze in the settlements as the United States had demanded, and if the government had changed its policy of closing its eyes to the settlers, this claim could be treated seriously. But even now, when by its pledge the government ostensibly wants to show that it seriously intends to obey the law, the time it is taking raises the suspicion that it plans to evade the pledge.
For too many years, Israel's governments have made a mockery of the High Court when it comes to obeying the law in the territories. They have put the rule of law at risk not only in the territories, but in Israel as well. For too many years these outposts have defined Israel's status in the world as an occupier that ignores international law.
No Israeli law that seeks to frighten those who call for a boycott of Israel can correct this. The leniency and understanding that the High Court, the Civil Administration and the State Prosecutor's Office have shown the government's policy of deception cannot go on. The outposts must be removed immediately. Israel's future depends on it.
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