Source: PM Taps Ramon to Head Outpost C'tee

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has decided to appoint Vice Premier Haim Ramon as chairman of the committee to implement the recommendations of the Talia Sasson outposts report. This information was relayed by a source in the Prime Minister's Office.

A number of cabinet ministers assume that as committee chair, Ramon may be able to implement a counter proposal he submitted last year in his capacity as justice minister in response to the Sasson report.

The main aspect of this proposal was the process of legalizing some of the unauthorized outposts.

The report, delineating dozens of illegal outposts, was submitted by Justice Ministry attorney Talia Sasson in 2005. Following the report, then prime minister Ariel Sharon appointed a committee headed by the justice minister to implement it.

Present Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann has told Olmert that he does not want to head the committee.

The Justice Ministry spokesman said yesterday that an amended draft of the decision would be submitted to the ministerial committee on outposts after that committee goes back to work at a time of its choosing. According to the spokesman, the proposal makes reference to various comments made about it.

In the comprehensive document Sasson wrote at the time, she said the draft decision weakens the little control the government has over construction in the territories.

She wrote to deputy attorney general Mike Balas and to the ministerial committee that the draft decision "leads to the feeling that the report is an excuse to change the situation, but contrary to its original intention."

Sasson strongly protested Balas' proposal that most of the powers of the Defense Ministry be moved to the ministerial committee on settlement.

She also opposed the recommendation that the ministerial authority to approve "reasonable and contiguous expansion" of existing settlements be transfered to the local or the regional authorities - that is, to the settlers.

Sasson expressed the hope that the recommendations of the ministerial committee on the outposts would be made only after she presented her position.

As of yesterday, she had heard nothing about her many comments. Moreover, her name was erased from the list of permanent invitees to the ministerial meetings on the report bearing her name.

Labor's ministers did not fight over the right to sit on the committee appointed to bring a little order to the legal jungle in the territories. Labor made do with Defense Minister Ehud Barak and National Infrastructure Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer. No small number of illegal settlements were established on their watch in the Defense Ministry.