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04TELAVIV1946 2004-03-31 11:58:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tel Aviv
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					C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TEL AVIV 001946 



E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/30/2014


Classified By: DCM Richard LeBaron for Reasons 1.4 (b,d)

This is a joint Embassy Tel Aviv/ConGen Jerusalem Cable

1. (C) IDF forces succeeded early Wednesday March 31 in their
second attempt within 24 hours to remove the outpost of Hazon
David near Kiryat Arba in the West Bank. The IDF had failed
the previous evening to remove the outpost, reportedly little
more than a number of tents and a makeshift synagogue, when
it encountered organized settler resistance and backed off.
The successful evacuation Wednesday morning followed IDF
action forcibly blocking most settler access to the areas
around the outpost. According to the settler website Arutz
7, settlers have vowed to reestablish the outpost. Settler
activists attempting to get to the site clashed with border
police and IDF units later in the day, leaving a policewoman
and a teenage boy lightly injured.


GOI Moves the Ball Forward, Slowly


2. (C) This action moves the process of GOI removal of those
outposts established after March 2001 a small but significant
step forward. It is the first outpost removed under PM
Sharon's December 2003 decision to base GOI challenges to the
establishment of illegal outposts on security and political
grounds, rather than on violations of zoning and building
laws (reftel). This decision was enshrined in the March 4
High Court of Justice decision specifically authorizing Hazon
David's removal that was immediately appealed by settler
groups. The High Court rejected this appeal, lodged by
settlement groups such including Amana and the Gush Emmunim,
on March 22, thus paving the way for the March 31 removal.
IDF action against the Hazon David outpost, and the court
decision that made it possible, could thus presage the
removal of other established outposts. (Note: Hazon David
was not one of the 49 sites listed as still present on the
list of post-march 2001 outposts passed by the Ambassador to
the IDF on January 14 because we could not confirm its
location. Therefore there are still 49 outposts present from
the January 14 list, and many of these are occupied and
growing. The test of the Hazon David action will be whether
it is followed by action against the more established


Palestinians and Settlers Downplay
Evacuation's Significance


3. (C) Palestinian and settler officials largely downplayed
the IDF action. Sa'eb Erekat, PA Minister for Negotiations,
derided the evacuation as "cosmetic." "Settlement activity
goes on, and the war goes on," Erekat said in a public
statement. Elyakim Haetzni, a hard-core settler activist in
Kiryat Arba, largely shared Erekat's assessment. "This place
is a joke; it's nothing," Haetzni told PolOff March 31.
"It's part of a cat-and-mouse game" between the settlers and
Sharon, he added. "It will be a losing battle for the
government because they will need to keep 100-200 soldiers at
the site for months to keep us away," said Haetzni. "This
place was just four walls made of simple stones with a
tarpaulin for a roof," he said, laughing. "If they try to
remove a larger place, there will be much more resistance."
Haetzni said that the settlers who clashed with police in the
area hours after the evacuation were intending to rebuild the


Settlers Preparing to Resist
Future Evacuations


4. (C) Shaul Goldstein, vice chair of the YESHA Council and
head of the Gush Etzion council, told PolOff March 31 that
Bat Ayin West-West, one of the outposts in Gush Etzion, had
received IDF evacuation orders yesterday, but he did not know
when or if the orders would be carried out. Goldstein said
he couldn't be sure the settlers will be able to re-establish
the outpost if it is removed. "We don't have so much money
right now," he said. "And we don't have the money for a PR
campaign, like the Geneva Accord people do." (Note: Both
Jerusalem and Tel Aviv have been plastered recently with
high-quality posters opposing the evacuation of settlements
as part of the "disengagement plan.") Goldstein predicted
that the settlers would save their resistance efforts for
larger, populated outposts, and that the settlers would make
Sharon pay a political price for this and any other
evacuations. For Goldstein, the stakes seemed high: "Today
is the beginning of the destruction of Israel."
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