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The recently released report on the unauthorized settlement outposts in the territories exposes the occupation in all its ugliness.

It reveals that settlers have been working underground for years in the branches of the government, that senior officials refused to divulge information to the report's compiler, attorney Talia Sasson, and that other officials acted contrary to the policies of their ministers.

The issue takes on an even more serious nature in light of the fact that heading the Civil Administration is a military officer with the rank of major general who was involved in unlawful acts. As a result, the Israel Defense Forces is entangled in this affair of deception.

The report's compiler levels accusations at all the branches of the government and the ministries connected with the settlement enterprise in the territories, but she refrains, almost demonstratively, from determining the responsibility of the Prime Minister's Office and the prime minister himself.

This fact will not excuse the prime minister from honoring his letter of commitment - written by attorney Dov Weisglass to Condoleezza Rice on September 14, 2004 - to dismantle the illegal outposts within a short period of time. Neither will it stop the Israeli public from becoming increasingly aware that the entire affair was one huge con on the part of the government.

The U.S. administration suspected as much a long time ago, but was unsure whether the government was intentionally breaking the law and lying, or had lost control over what was going on and was required to make false statements about construction in the territories.

The worrying thing is that when Secretary Rice visited Israel, she made do with a brief mention of the Israeli letter of commitment vis-a-vis the outposts, but failed to insist on the need to dismantle them as soon as possible. It appears that she, too, accepted the claim that it is best to focus now on the big plan, the disengagement, and leave the affair of the illegal outposts to the next stage.

The underground activity took place primarily in the defense establishment. The defense minister's aide acted contrary to the minister's policies, wrote letters that contradicted policy, and tried to mislead Sasson in his testimony. Following Sasson's scathing remarks, it is doubtful if the minister's aide can remain in his position. The question is will Shaul Mofaz oust him or will he ask him to hand in his resignation.

For its part, the Civil Administration was involved in allocating private Palestinian land on which outposts were unlawfully established. Fifteen of the outposts are on privately owned Palestinian land. The Civil Administration, in essence, failed to carry out the supervision work with which it was entrusted.

Out of the entire defense establishment, attorney Sasson had good remarks for just one individual - Brigadier General (res.) Baruch Spiegel, who helped her to get her hands on particulars that others had kept from her.

There are military roles that the army is required to fulfill in the territories, but there is no need to entangle it in administrative duties. These should be left to civilian officials.