The settlers' two fronts

Posted in Israel / Palestine | 10-Aug-04 | Author: Ze'ev Schiff| Source: Ha'aretz

Israeli soldiers point their weapons to disperse demonstrators in the Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem.
The struggle between the government and the settler camp apparently is heading for an explosion that will involve the Israel Defense Forces and other security forces. As of right now, the settlers have the upper hand. The government talks a lot while the settlers act, based on overall planning. They are better at maneuvering and establishing facts on the ground.

The settlers have opened two fronts: One front is aimed against the disengagement plan and the evacuation the settlements of Gaza and northern Samaria. The second front is the outposts, which the prime minister promised President Bush he'd remove. These are not disconnected fronts. They even swap forces between them.

It is possible that not everything is done with the full coordination of the Yesha Council of Jewish settlers; for example, there is verified information that a contingent of "hilltop youth" (actually, hilltop men - it's been decades since many of them were youths) moved into Gush Katif settlements ahead of the "battle" against the evacuation.

Families have also moved into one of the northern West Bank settlements that is earmarked for evacuation. According to one plan, the settlers will resettle a settlement that has been evacuated while the authorities evacuate another settlement. They'll wear down the army that way. That is why the army was opposed to evacuation in stages in Gaza. The general staff says that every day that goes by weakens the chances of the disengagement plan.

As for the settlers' maneuverability methods, there's the fact that some settler leaders are saying they'll be ready to talk about a compromise, when it comes to the outposts. They'll be willing to evacuate some outposts, if others are recognized. That's the method that's always worked for them, starting in the first settlements in Hebron, Kedumim and other places.

While those signs are in the air, the settlers are are busy with the great trailer scam. The defense minister approved 220 trailers over the past few months, for designated places. But 75 of them are not where they were supposed to go. That's how they deceive the IDF and the Defense Ministry. Their agreement says a jeep accompanies the truck transporting the mobile home until it is unloaded, but it is obvious what happens when the jeep leaves. The army says that until the settlers are caught doing it, nothing can be done about it.

The Americans are asking who paved the roads to the illegal outposts and who provides them with electricity. The army sighs and says they also wake up to find a new road to an outpost that has not been approved. Obviously, money for the illegal outposts, or the unauthorized ones since the definition doesn't matter, is reaching them from various government ministries. The state comptroller has commented on that in his report.

When the prime minister's bureau goes on leaking that now is not the time to deal with the outposts because the main front is the evacuation, it is in effect admitting that it lost one front. The truth is the government is afraid of the conflict involved in evacuating the outposts.

In contacts with the Americans on several occasions, there have been hints dropped about how if Israel were to undertake the evacuation of at least one large settlement, the American pressure on it would be reduced. The Americans named, as an example, Migron, where dozens of families reside. The case of Migron is accepted as a clear-cut example of an illegal outpost because it was put up on privately owned Palestinian land. In other words, the plunder of private property.

Upon asking for a reaction to the question of why obviously illegal outposts are not being evacuated, the answer is that there will be a world war - among the Jews - if we try to dismantle Migron. In other words, fear of the settlers, giving up on obeying the law and perpetuating the approach that violence gets whatever you want. The IDF hears the voices. No wonder they're saying that they'd like to see the entire mission taken off their shoulders and turned over to the police. But the same voices are being heard in the police.