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The following is the second installment of the Outpost Watch, a project aimed at helping monitor outposts and clarify the potential difficulty in countering them for the sake of peace. Data are based in large part on extensive research conducted over years by the Peace Now organization, augmented with and cross-referenced by information from settlers and Haaretz correspondents.

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Everyone who lives here is a hostage. We know it, even if we are often surprised anew by the specific people who are currently holding us hostage, which is to say, staving off progress toward a future peace, and, in the process, taking a direct slap at Barack Obama.

Some we know all too well, of course. There are those among our captors who are so consistent and tireless in the work against peace that they have become part of the wallpaper, along with the scratches we make, year after year, decade after decade, marking opportunities intentionally wasted and lives needlessly lost.

Oddly enough, for fundamentalists on both sides, the prayer is oddly the same. It amounts to Please God, Keep Israel from Making Peace.

There are those among supporters of the Palestinians who, deep down, would rather see Israel punished than to see a Palestinian state be established. These include the diaspora schemers of Hamas, headed by Khaled Meshal, who said last week "The enemy's leaders call for a so-called Jewish state is a racist demand that is no different from calls by Italian Fascists and Hitler's Nazism."

And there are those among us, Jews obsessed with the West Bank, who would rather see Israel punished than have the settlements harmed in any way.

After all these years, praying against peace is easy to understand. For both sides, peace will entail repugnant compromises, ugly admissions, internal war. And for fundamentalist Islam and fundamentalist Judaism both, it's either peace on our maximalist terms, or no peace at all.

When it comes to fundamentalists, we know what we are up against: The people who let us know that a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians is the last thing God wants.

But there are others who hold us - and peace - hostage, who are more difficult to comprehend. Take Ehud Barak. The nominal leader of Israel's peace camp. The head of the party which first concluded a peace agreement with the Palestinians. And the Israeli leader who presided over the defense ministry decision last month to, in effect, reward the squatters in Migron, the most heavily populated and highest profile of all illegal outposts, with new housing in an established settlement. A sophisticated but no less direct slap at the American presidedent. A time-bomb of a decision which, inconveniently enough, went off in the High Court Monday just as Barak was leaving for Washington and talks over, what else, a freeze on settlement.

Never mind that the proposed new housing would be in Adam, north of Jerusalem, which is outside the settlement blocs which Washington has foreseen as annexed to Israel in a land-swap as a part of an overall future peace settlement.

Never mind that the plan also appears to be part of a much larger strategy aimed at eventually extending Adam to link to the northern Jerusalem neighborhood of Neve Yaakov, a proposal Palestinians strongly oppose as a direct block to a viable independent Palestine.

Never mind that it acts as a reward for squatting, illegality, and defiance of Israeli government authority.

The worst problem is that neither the Defense Ministry nor its minister, seem to see any of these as a problem at all.


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With thanks to Adam Abrams

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