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Israel's outpost hutzpah

07/02/2004

The Hebrew/Yiddish word "Hutzpah," which means extraordinary effrontery, has long since passed into common English usage. Those who do not know the meaning of this word got an object lesson when, six weeks late, Israel submitted its list of illegal outposts that are due to be destroyed under the roadmap agreements. A total of twenty eight outposts were listed. Of these, Israel is committed to remove only twelve, and has announced that it is going to regularize the status of the others.

Illegal or "unauthorized" outposts are those that were constructed after March of 2001, as defined in the Roadmap. This is a "generous" definition. Actually, Israel had agreed at least informally, not to build any new settlements under the Oslo accords, and therefore all the outposts constructed since the Oslo accords are "illegal." Israeli officials have repeatedly promissed to remove these outposts. Indeed, a few of the outposts were removed, opposed by dramatic and sometimes violent demonstrations of the settlers, but invariably, the outposts, which often consist of a few trailers, are soon repopulated. None of the more substantial outposts have been removed. There were over 100 "illegal" outposts according to a November 2003 report by Peace Now. Of these, about 60 were constructed after March of 2001.

The Peace Now report noted:


Upon accepting George Bush's Road Map the Government of Israel committed to remove all outposts established since March 2001.

According to Peace Now statistics this number is more than 60 outposts in the West Bank. The majority of these points have not been removed, but have grown and condensed. In addition since the Aqaba summit 5 new outposts have been established (two of these manned). The actions of the settlers in the past few months are based on condensing and expanding the existing outposts.

It is not clear how the 60 outposts of Peace Now were reduced to 28, but we can use our imagination. Outposts were probably "condensed" by calling two or three outposts by the same name or they were "eliminated" by attaching them to existing settlements as if they are "natural expansion." Some outposts consist of only a few trailers, and can be overlooked. In the future, they will become "facts on the ground," but right now they are non-facts. Even more interesting is the intention, advanced by Israel, to make the settlements "kosher" after the fact. Israel has reneged on international agreements and now it wants to decide unilaterally to rewrite the agreements. The roadmap clearly was not intended only to help Israeli zoning planners by removing outposts that didn't agree with Israeli zoning laws. Manifestly, the Palestinians and Americans couldn't care less if the settlements agree with the Israeli master plan for occupying the West Bank. Perhaps the most delicious and interesting aspect was used by Ha'aretz, apparently paraphrasing the Israeli letter to the US, noting that "some of the remaining 16 outposts are in the process of being approved and planned." These outposts all exist. They are therefore going to be "planned" after they were built, a very novel use of the word "planned."

The outposts are mostly unpopulated or have only a few families in them. They are of no strategic significance. Therefore, the only motivation for not evacuating them must be rooted in coalition politics.
If it is politically impossible to remove even these little symbolic annoyances, how will the government ever be able to remove the settlements in Gaza? Perhaps they will list them as something other than settlements, and then it will not be necessary to remove them.

The Israeli government is justifiably indignant that the PNA has not lived up to its commitments under the Oslo accords and the roadmap to stop incitement and fight terror. Unfortunately, this complaint loses its moral force in view of the non-compliance of the Israelis. If we won't honestly fulfill our commitments to the US, our closest allies, how can we expect the Palestinians to fulfill their commitments to us?

Ami Isseroff

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Original text copyright by the author and MidEastWeb for Coexistence, RA. Posted at MidEastWeb Middle East Web Log at http://www.mideastweb.org/log/archives/00000274.htm where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Distributed by MEW Newslist. Subscribe by e-mail to mew-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Please forward by email with this notice and link to and cite this article. Other uses by permission.

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Replies: 8 comments

Ami:

You have GOT to be kidding - right? With all the terrorist groups the PA funds and directs, you are complaining about a few trailers perched on isolated and desolate hills?

Just today there was a report where a palestinian "collaborator" was dragged into the town square and machine-gunned by four executioners while a crowd of spectators cheered and danced around the corpse.

No one dies when a few crazy Israelis set up an outpost, but the fanatic arabs are determined to kill jews no matter what.

You point out that the outposts are unpopulated or have only a few families. However, you imply, this is too provacative to the sensitive arabs, who then are then justified in their murderous zeal.

Posted by rick @ 07/02/2004 07:04 PM CST

This author must be smoking something that is only legal in the Netherlands. Under the Oslo Accords, the "Palestinian Authority" was supposed to stop using terror and combat other groups that were using it as well. Instead, not only did then not stop anyone else but are directly involved in the daily attempted genocide of Jews in Israel. When you compare that violation of the accords (long looked upon as a historic national disaster in Israel) to the building of outposts your moral compass appears out of whack.

Regards Smoky,

Amir

Posted by Amir @ 07/02/2004 08:03 PM CST

The previous comments are about moral equivalency. They contend that weighting the issues morally, settlements and outposts are less serious than killing people - or trying to. Well, I agree killing people is worse than trespassing; however, the settlements make a contiguous Palestinian state an impossibility and so lead to more deaths. There is a reason why the multiple agreements juxtapose these issues.

Posted by Carol @ 07/02/2004 08:27 PM CST

Dear Carol. Are you still dreaming that the "Palestinian" Arabs actually want a state of their own? Did you miss the offer made by Barak to Arafat...the one that was turned down as Arafat launched the Oslo War?

Besides, you are forgetting that this is not Palestinian land we are talking about, rather disputed land that both parties have legitimate claims to. If you contend that these territories must be Judenrein than you must also move all Arabs and non-Jews out of "Israel Proper".

Does that make any sense to you?

AMir

Posted by Amir @ 07/02/2004 10:52 PM CST

No, Amir, it does not make sense to me. Israel has decided that it is to be a state of all of its citizens, Jew and others, with special immigration rights given to Jews and some related to them. The state of Palestine will decide its own policies. They may decide that those Jews in the occupied territories who are willing to live as Palestinian citizens are welcome to stay. They may not.
As for "disputed territory," not under the Geneva Convention. The West Bank and Gaza were captured in a war and are, until there is a negotiated settlement, occupied and as such not to be settled by the occupiers.
Carol

Posted by Carol @ 07/03/2004 12:10 AM CST

IT AMAZES ME HOW FEW PEOPLE REALIZE OR CARE THAT ARAFART HAS NOT MOVED ONE INCH TO EVEN BEGIN TO COMPLY WITH THE VERY FIRST OBLIGATION IN THE ROADMAP, WHICH IS TO DESTROY THE TERRORIST ORGANIZATIONS AND INFRASTRUCTURE. BUT HOW CAN HE WHEN SOME OF THEM ARE PART OF HIS OWN ORGANIZATION? WHY IN THE WORLD SHOULD ISRAEL REMOVE ANY SETTLEMENT OR OUTPOST BEFORE THE PLO TAKES STEP # 1?
IN FACT ISRAEL HAS ALREADY TAKEN MANY STEPS, SOME IN THE 'ROADMAP' AND SOME BEYOND IT. LET THE PALESTINIANS DO LIKEWISE. IT TAKES TWO TO TANGO AND TO MAKE PEACE. AS FOR THE MISNAMED 'PEACE NOW' THEY ARE MORE FOR 'CONSCESSIONS NOW' BUT ONLY BY ISRAEL.

Posted by MIKE LEVINE @ 07/05/2004 09:35 AM CST

Ultimately Israel must withdraw from most of the territories that it captured in 1967. Israel cannot expect the Palestinians to respect Israel, if Israel does not respect the potential Palestinian state. Israel cannot have perpetually amorphous national boundaries if it expects the Palestinians to relinquish their claims upon the entire Mandate territory (i.e Israel, West Bank & Gaza). This tendency by Israel is arrogance.
That the nascent Palestinian state wishes to exclude all Jews from its territories does not diminish Israel, it diminishes Palestine. It is a notable fact that every state in the world that seeks to exclude minorities is fundamentally poorer in every way for it. It is not an accident that the most tolerant states are also the wealthiest.
If the future Palestinian society wishes to perceive Jews in a variety of anti-semitic guises or simply as perpetual enemies, then it is Palestine that loses the potential contribution that Jews might make to the development of Palestine. It also limits the nature of any engagement it could have with Israel, and will find that obtaining Israeli cooperation will be that more difficult. Israels most powerful weapon against the future Palestine will not be the vast array of weapons it possesses, but the simple measure of closing its borders with Palestine. If Israel were to do that effectively, Palestine would collapse.
When the term Judenrein is used it harks back to a period in history when Nazi Germany and its allies were powerful and the various Jewish communities impotent. However the relationship between Israel and its neighbours is completelyu different. It is Israel that is the regional super-power.
That Israel does not seek to evict its non-Jewish communities and has sought, albeit inadequately, to integrate them into the body of Israeli society is Israels strength.

Posted by Rod Davies @ 07/06/2004 09:43 PM CST

Comments on some of the replies:
No, I am not kidding. We know that Arafat has not done anything to fulfill his part of the roadmap etc. and killing people is not morally equivalent to setting up a trailer. However, that is not relevant. Israel's commitment to remove outposts is within the phase 1 roadmap commitments it undertook. The roadmap is lock-stepped in the sense that each side should not move to phase 2 until phase 1 is completed by both sides, but within a phase, each side must fulfill its obligations. Otherwise each side would be saying "you first" to the other side forever. Israel's obligations RE the outposts are to the US and Europe, not to the PA. If Israel thought that it had no obligation to remove outposts, they would have said so. But they didn't. They submitted a fictitious list of outposts. Even if the PNA were to comply with all aspects of the roadmap, they would still feel themselves bound only by that fictitious list.
As a postscript to the article, I should add that Peace Now now claims there are only about 56 such outposts rather than 60 as they claimed previously. Israel certainly has no right to "authorize" or "legalize" the outposts after the fact, regardless of Palestinian actions.

Ami I.

Posted by Ami Isseroff @ 07/08/2004 03:45 PM CST


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