|05TELAVIV1524||2005-03-14 15:37:00||CONFIDENTIAL||Embassy Tel Aviv|
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
1. (C) Summary/Comment: Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's
Cabinet on March 13 decided to remove the 24 post-March 2001
outposts mentioned in Talia Sasson's report, but not until
after implementation of the disengagement plan. Israeli
officials said that the GOI is "busy" with disengagement and
that the IDF's attention should not be diverted from it. The
Cabinet also set up a ministerial committee, headed by
Minister of Justice Tzipi Livni, to make recommendations on
the other 81 unauthorized outposts mentioned in the report,
and to recommend an overhaul of procedures needed to
establish new outposts. The Cabinet only approved the
principle that the rule of law should be obeyed, but not the
report itself, and Sharon dismissed calls to dismantle the
Settlements Division of the World Zionist Organization. The
media and politicians are characterizing the establishment of
the committee, which has 90 days to report back to the
Cabinet, as "foot-dragging" and a "diversionary maneuver."
End Summary and Comment.
Dismantle 24 Outposts... But When?
2. (C) Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Cabinet on March 13
decided to remove the 24 post-March 2001 outposts mentioned
in Talia Sasson's report. According to press reports,
Sharon told his Cabinet that "Israel is obligated under the
roadmap, which was approved by a cabinet decision and which
in its first phase calls on Israel to dismantle the
unauthorized outposts that were established since March 2001,
and Israel will live up to its commitments." The Cabinet,
however, did not set a timeline for the evacuations, despite
the fact that the report said there were no legal hurdles to
prevent dismantling six of the 24 outposts. Sasson's report
also recommended that another 15 outposts built on private
Palestinian land should be evacuated immediately. Defense
Minister Shaul Mofaz told the Ambassador on March 14 that
none of the outposts would be evacuated until after
implementation of the disengagement plan, and at the Cabinet
meeting he reportedly said that the IDF's attention should
not be diverted from disengagement. In addition, Sharon
reportedly told UN Secretary General Kofi Annan that Israel
will evacuate the 24 outposts, "but not just now" because the
GOI is "busy" implementing disengagement.
And the Other 81?
3. (C) The Cabinet left the fate of the remaining 81
outposts mentioned in Sasson's report undecided (Note: 71
are pre-March 2001 outposts and Sasson could not determine
when the other 10 were erected. End note). According to
press, the Cabinet set up a special committee, which Justice
Minister Tzipi Livni will head, "to recommend organizational
changes and an overhaul of the procedures necessary to obtain
permission to establish new outposts." The committee,
however, will not have the authority to order the evacuation
of any outposts. Other committee members include the
Ministers of Construction and Housing, Defense,
Infrastructure, Internal Security, Agriculture, Education,
Health, and Interior. Mofaz told the Ambassador that they
will report their recommendations to the Cabinet in 90 days.
Cabinet Decision Falls Short in Other Respects
4. (U) In addition to postponing the evacuation of the
post-March 2001 outposts, the Cabinet decided to adopt "only
the principle that the rule of law should be obeyed," and not
the report itself. Attorney General Menachem Mazuz allegedly
said that the Cabinet could not adopt the report in its
entirety until its conclusions are examined more closely.
The Cabinet passed a resolution that said the report's
findings and recommendations are "important," and that "the
government accepts the basic principles of the report -- that
there is a need to be careful and ensure that the allocation
of land, the planning, the establishment and populating the
settlements, existing and new ones in Judea and Samaria, is
done according to law and according to government decisions."
5. (U) According to press, Sharon also dismissed calls to
dismantle the Settlements Division of the World Zionist
Organization, reportedly saying that "the time had not yet
6. (C) Israeli pundits and Labor members are already
commenting that the creation of the Cabinet's ministerial
committee to determine how to implement Sasson's
recommendations is merely "foot-dragging" and one of Sharon's
"diversionary maneuvers." They claim that, in the end,
nothing will happen and no outposts will be dismantled. Of
more importance, however, is the committee's mandate to look
into "an overhaul of the procedures necessary to obtain
permission to establish new outposts." In effect, this could
mean that not only will no outposts be dismantled, but in
fact, that the committee could find a way to retroactively
approve most of the outposts mentioned in the report, and 81
unauthorized outposts will turn into "authorized" facts on
the ground. End comment.
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