Mofaz Adviser Quits Amid Claims He Assisted Illegal Outposts

Report on illegal outposts says Ron Shechner authorized activities he knew would be in violation of the law.

Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz's adviser on settlement affairs, Ron Shechner, resigned Wednesday after being accused of assissting in the construction of illegal outposts.

In a report on illegal outposts submitted March by former senior state prosecutor Talia Sasson, she recommended firing Shechner, who held this position for the past three years.

Sasson said that Shechner had misled the World Zionist Organziation by telling its settlement department that the outposts received government authorization. The report accused Shechner, a resident of the Yatir settlement, of overriding his autority, and of authorizing activities he knew were in violation of the law. Following the report Attorney General Menachem Mazuz demanded Shechner be relieved of his position.

Shechner is accused of giving orders to executive bodies, which assumed the orders were originally given by the Defense Minister himself, while Mofaz did not even know about these orders.

For example, in letters sent by Shechner in January and February to the Zionist Organization settlement department he referred to outposts such as Mizpeh Yair, Asael and Eshtamoa as "new settlements", saying that they were independent settlements that should be treated as such in regards to their budgeting.

A week ago Haaretz reported that the recommendation to fire Shechner had not been carried out. The Defense Ministry then responded that Mofaz had not yet made a decision on Shechner's employment. Another central recommendation of the Sasson report, supported by a cabinet decision - to decrease the number of illegal outposts in the West Bank - has not been implemented yet.