Israel Gives U.S. List of Unauthorized Outposts

Israel has given the U.S. administration a list of 28 unauthorized settler outposts in the West Bank, after a six-week delay.

U.S. Embassy spokesman Paul Patin, however, said the action fell short of American demands to dismantle the outposts.

The list presented by the defense minister's advisor, Baruch Spiegel, to U.S. Ambassador Dan Kurtzer on Tuesday consists of outposts erected since Prime Minister Ariel Sharon assumed office in March 2001.

According to the list, Sharon and Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz ordered the evacuation of 12 outposts, of which seven have been removed while some of the remaining 16 outposts are in the process of being approved and planned.

The road map calls on Israel to remove outposts built during Sharon's term, and Sharon declared at the Aqaba summit in June 2003 that the government would begin the evacuation.

During Sharon's visit to Washington on April 14, his bureau chief Dov Weisglass undertook to submit to the administration "within 30 days" the list of unauthorized outposts.

Spiegel and Kurtzer also discussed freezing the construction in the settlements. Israel promised the U.S. that the construction would proceed only within existing areas, and agreed to hold talks with the Americans to determine the "construction line" with aerial photos.

Diplomatic sources said Kurtzer and Spiegel - who left Wednesday for Britain and the U.S. - agreed that at this stage they would only discuss freezing the construction in the isolated settlements and not in the large settlement blocs near the Green Line. This means building may continue in the areas earmarked for annexation to Israel in a future settlement.

An American source denied any such agreement.

Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom is to leave for the U.S. Thursday night, and will meet National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of State Colin Powell tomorrow. Shalom will discuss steps to promote the disengagement plan and the possible Palestinian leaders capable of handling the security in Gaza - Mohammed Dahlan or the interior minister-designate, Tayeb Abed Al-Rahim.

Shalom will also discuss with his hosts the Egyptian proposal to convene the "small quartet" consisting of Israel, the U.S., Egypt, and the Palestinian Authority in a meeting of foreign ministers in Washington in October. He will also deal with the Iranian nuclear threat, following Teheran's declared intention of manufacturing centrifuges to produce enriched uranium.