Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Barak to Yesha: Abandon Outposts or Face Expulsion
Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu Barak Threatens Expulsions
Defense Minister Ehud Barak told leaders of the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria Wednesday that he will order forcible expulsions of Jewish residents from what he termed illegal outposts if the communities are not evacuated voluntarily. In a 75-minute meeting at his offices in Tel Aviv, the Defense Minister also advised, “The outposts hurt the image of communities in Judea and Samaria.”
The leaders of the movement to maintain a Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria reacted with restraint and suggested that several hilltop communities might be evacuated but added they will demand that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu discuss the issue with them after his return from Washngtron.
They pointed to Migron as a case example of how mutual discussions might be able to avoid a violent confrontation, although the community remains standing despite High Court orders that it be destroyed. The Yesha Council and the Defense Minister have come up with a plan to relocate the residents, but no final action has been taken.
The leaders of the nationalist movement have stated that only a few of the hilltop communities, or outposts, are illegal, explaining that their status is in question only because they have not been registered properly.
Dozens of outposts have been established throughout Judea and Samaria since the Oslo Accords, and many of them have developed into full-fledged communities, including synagogues and educational facilities.
Wednesday’s meeting was the first time Yesha leaders met with Barak since he ordered the expulsion of Jews from the Peace House in Hevron several months ago, at the same time he was speaking with nationalists about a compromise.
The Defense Minster claimed his determination to destroy several communities was not a reaction to American pressure bur rather is because he wants to enforce the law. However, he previously has delayed expulsions for up to two years. In November 2007, he asked the High Court for an extension of only two months before presenting a plan to dismantle several outposts.
The leftist organization Peace Now has initiated several petitions to the courts to force the removal of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.