A perusal of attorney Talia Sasson's report regarding the unauthorized outposts arouses the suspicion that the Israeli government is planning to "launder" a large percentage of the outposts and to turn them into legal settlements.
Sasson determined that there are 105 illegal outposts, but emphasized that she is not certain that this number is final, because the Civil Administration deceived her, and did not give her all the information she requested. The report also indicated that 24 of the illegal outposts were established after March 2001, the date of the formation of the Sharon government.
A letter of commitment from Israel to then-U.S. national security adviser Condoleezza Rice from April 14, 2004, speaks of removing all the unauthorized outposts. But Israel relies on the fact that, according to the road map, it must immediately dismantle, during the first stage of the map's implementation, only the outposts built after the formation of the Sharon government, and freeze all building activity in the rest of the settlements, as mentioned in the Mitchell Report. Today the government is talking only of dismantling the settlements built during the term of the present Sharon government, and not all the outposts. The question is whether the other 81 outposts will receive - via the back door, and contrary to Israel's promises to U.S. President George W. Bush - the status of legal settlements in every sense.
The interministerial committee established this week apparently does not plan to discuss the question of the illegal settlements, and one gets the impression that the committee was established only in order to gain time, and not in order to solve the problem of the outposts.
Sasson, in her report, raised a number of proposals designed to make the continued existence of the illegal outposts difficult. First, she suggested disconnecting the electricity that is supplied to them by the Israel Electric Corporation. She said hooking them up to electricity undermines the principle of the rule of law, encourages illegal construction, and sends a negative message to the public. To this we should add the instructions of the attorney general, that the state and its employees are not permitted to take part in illegal activities.
The same is true of water. The Mekorot Water Company must disconnect the water supply to the existing illegal outposts, and must not connect new illegal outposts to its water reservoirs.
There will certainly be a debate about the third deterrent step. Sasson believes the protection automatically provided by the Israel Defense Forces to the residents of the illegal outposts broadcasts a negative message to the public. Her principle regarding disconnection of electricity and water applies here, as well. The concept of the IDF, on the other hand, is that the army has an obligation to provide protection to every Israeli, wherever he chooses to live. Sasson said this concept "has led to a particularly dismal outcome." She said that, in the long run, those who decide about IDF deployment in the territories are the settlers rather than the army. By protecting lawbreakers, the IDF grants their actions a seal of approval, and becomes a partner to the double message being transmitted to the settlers by some government bodies.
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