Like former defense minister Ehud Barak, Defense Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer struck a deal with the Yesha Council of Settlements to get rid of illegal outposts. Just as happened with Barak, the Yesha Council appears to be satisfied with sacrificing some empty shacks in exchange for beefing up the populated areas.
Yesterday, dozens of empty trailers and mobile homes were moved. In 1999, sheep pens, water towers and observation towers were also moved.
Barak's deal with the Yesha Council was made public. It had two parts - one written, the other verbal. The written deal defined 8 categories for the 42 outposts established during the Netanyahu administration - at the urging of then foreign minister Ariel Sharon. The verbal agreement said that evacuated outposts could be re-established after the formal process of legalizing them was finished. Most of those that Barak had evacuated were rebuilt or moved.
The agreement between Ben-Eliezer and the Yesha Council has not been made public. But there are clearly some parallels to the deal with Barak. Then too, "dummy" outposts planted in the territory to improve Yesha Council negotiation positions were moved. Then too, the populated outposts - Mizpe Cramim, Mizpe Hagit, and the Maon farm - were left to the final stage. Maon farm, re-established after the Barak government removed it, will be an outpost to go, along with one in the Binyamin district and one near Nablus. Yesha's silence in the face of the evacuations is proof that it is convinced dismantling unpopulated outposts does not harm its population centers.
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