The prime minister, several cabinet members and senior IDF officers boasted this week of their victory over "anarchists" who wanted to disrupt law and order in the territories. Lt. Col. Shalom Eisner's proponents argued that the deputy commander of the Jordan Valley brigade, who smashed his rifle in the face of a Danish peace activist, was protecting his soldiers from a group of anarchists.
If an anarchist is one who denies the state's monopoly on power and authority, this definition aptly characterizes a large proportion of the settlers, who flout the rule of law in the territories and have become masters of the land.
Amos Harel reported in Haaretz on Thursday that a large part of another outpost, Mitzpeh Cramim, was built without a permit on private Palestinian land in the past year. The illegal construction continued in the face of official documentation showing the land's private ownership and despite the Civil Administration's orders to stop work. Meanwhile, the settlers have inhabited about 20 buildings.
Defense sources confirmed that no real steps had been taken to stop the construction. It was also reported that construction in the illegal outpost Avigayil in the southern Hebron hills stopped only after repeated complaints by Rabbis for Human Rights group and Ta'ayush, an Arab-Jewish activist group.
The settlers at Mitzpeh Cramim can take encouragement from their colleagues in the Migron and Givat Assaf outposts, the Ulpana neighborhood in Beit El and dozens of blooming neighborhoods on robbed lands in the West Bank. They have learned that Civil Administration inspectors are not backed by the political leadership while the IDF and police prefer to arrest "anarchists" who want to protect Palestinian landowners from the settlers.
The settlers are counting on their supporters in the Knesset's rightist factions who are formulating a bill to legitimize the plunder of Palestinian land. In addition, a panel headed by former Supreme Court Justice Edmond Levy has been set up to examine other ways of retroactively legalizing the West Bank outposts.
In contrast to the authorities' resolve in their struggle against peace and human rights activists, the settlers are immune to the law and its enforcers, and bask in the open support of elected officials. In view of the shameful conduct of the prime minister and several cabinet members - who use the word "peace" in vain - it is time Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein throw his full weight into stopping the government-sanctioned anarchists.
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