maandag 27 augustus 2007

Buitenposten en vrede combineren niet...

De ontruiming van de kleine buitenpost Amona in 2006 liep uit op een geweldadige confrontatie met radikale kolonisten, die nogal een kater opleverde na de geslaagde evacuatie van de Gazastrook in het voorgaande jaar. Het enthousiasme voor verdere ontruimingen van buitenposten was er daarna wel af bij de regering Olmert, ondanks Israëlische wet en internationale afspraken. Toch moet er hoognodig een einde komen aan de Wild-West situatie op de Westelijke Jordaanoever.
Als de regering de buitenposten uit eigen beweging zou aanpakken, zou dit een krachtig signaal zijn naar Abbas en de Palestijnen. Geschuif met buitenposten en gedeeltelijke legalisering zoals in het onderstaande artikel voorgesteld, en dan nog alleen onder druk van Peace Now en het Hooggerechtshof, is een zeer zwak signaal, van een zeer zwakke regering. Je vraagt je af hoeveel populariteit ze nog te verliezen zouden hebben...


Outposts and peace don't mix

By Haaretz Editorial 
Aside from the publication date, it is hard to find any differences between the weekend reports of an emerging agreement on settlement outposts between Defense Minister Ehud Barak and settler representatives and those on the outposts agreement Barak reached with the Yesha Council in 1999 when he was prime minister and defense minister. Once again, talks are reportedly being held on how many outposts the settlers will evacuate voluntarily, in exchange for the state "laundering" other outposts. Judging by the previous round, the outposts slated for laundering will indeed be legalized, the settlers will vacate a few rusty shacks, and most of the outposts will remain in place. The defense minister's office is not embarrassed to say that Barak "is studying the issue and has not yet formulated a position."

The incentive for these talks is not a governmental commitment to enforcing the law in the West Bank, sparing the Israel Defense Forces from having to devote troops to defending land thieves and saving the public treasury tens of millions of shekels a year in expenses. Nor does the urgency stem from the previous government's promise, under the road map peace plan, to evacuate all outposts established after March 2001. The talks also have no connection to the report on the outposts that attorney Talia Sasson submitted to Ariel Sharon's government two and a half years ago. Just as with the nine houses that were evacuated in the Amona outpost in early 2006, here too, were it not for fear of a Peace Now petition to the High Court of Justice, it is very doubtful the authorities would have roused from their lengthy slumber.

According to the Makor Rishon newspaper, the motive for the emerging agreement is the defense minister's need to respond to Peace Now's petition, which demands that the state evacuate the Migron outpost - the largest illegal outpost in the territories. The Yesha Council was kind enough to "agree" to relocate the outpost after it became clear that there was no legal way to regularize the status of a community built almost entirely on private Palestinian land. But law-abiding nations do not wait until non-governmental organizations and the legal system force the authorities to enforce the law and abide by international agreements.

Aside from the legal problem, the expansion of the settlements, particularly the outposts, clearly contradicts the prime minister's talk of peace. What significance could there possibly be to negotiations with the Palestinians on an agreement of principles for ending the occupation if the government is at once holding negotiations with the settlers on legalizing outposts in the very heart of the West Bank?

Barak, who also heads the Labor Party, has repeatedly declared that he learned the requisite lessons from his mistakes during his previous term as prime minister and defense minister. But his forgiving attitude toward Israeli lawbreakers in the territories shows he is determined to repeat this grave error.

Nevertheless, overall responsibility for the failure to implement the decision to evacuate the outposts rests with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and the government as a whole. Every day the outposts remain in place is another day in which every member of the government is abusing his office

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