|05TELAVIV1853||2005-03-25 15:35:00||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: Talia Sasson told emboffs that she
encountered significant resistance to her information
requests from government ministries when doing research for
her report on unauthorized outposts. She explained on March
16 that the Settlements Division of the World Zionist
Organization refused to give her the data she requested, and
that some information from the Ministry of Construction and
Housing later turned out to be wrong. Despite these
obstacles, Sasson determined that the outposts picture is
"horrible," and that there are at least 105 outposts. She
also described an "open conspiracy" where settlers build
outposts without approvals, and the IDF often ignores
demolition orders approved by the High Court because there is
no political will to enforce them. Prime Minister Ariel
Sharon formed a ministerial committee on March 13 to review
Sasson's recommendations on how to deal with the outposts,
and Sasson will be meeting with the committee over the next
three months to give them more context on her findings and
suggestions. End Summary.
Tough Job for One Person
2. (C) The author of the report on GOI support for
unauthorized outposts, Talia Sasson, told Economic Counselor
and econoff on March 16 that she did not have any resources
to help her do research for her report on outposts. She
worked alone, mentioning that she was not authorized funds to
hire any support staff. If Sasson had hired someone to help
her, she would have had to pay out of her own pocket for the
staff's salaries and expenses.
3. (C) Sasson also said that she ran up against a great deal
of resistance from the ministries and agencies from whom she
requested information. Only staff at the Ministry of Defense
(MOD), Ministry of Construction and Housing (MOCH), and the
Settlements Division (SD) of the World Zionist Organization
agreed to interviews, and even then, the SD refused to give
her the data she requested despite constant letters and phone
calls. The MOCH was also very resistant in the beginning,
but it provided some information when Yitzhak Herzog became
Minister. Sasson said, however, that the MOCH recently told
her that the data it gave her may be wrong, and that it is
double-checking its figures. In response to econoff's
question, Sasson reported that there were probably other
ministries involved in supporting the outposts even though
she did not talk to any of their staff. She speculated that
the Ministries of Education, Tourism, Infrastructure,
Agriculture, and others had provided help to the outposts in
How Much Money Did They Spend?
4. (C) Sasson stated that she could not estimate how much
the GOI had spent on unauthorized outposts. She said she had
not received any funding information from any ministry
besides MOCH, and she was convinced that even these figures
were understated. Sasson told EconCouns that she had
incorporated everything she knew about GOI expenditures into
the report and had no additional figures. After reviewing
Sasson's report, Embassy assesses the MOCH spent at least $25
million on outposts between 2000-2004.
How Many Outposts?
5. (C) Sasson said that she counted at least 105 outposts.
She characterized 71 as pre-March 2001 outposts and 24 as
post-March 2001 outposts, but she could not determine the
date of the establishment of the 10 others. Sasson opined
that there are probably more than 105 outposts total but she
did not know if that meant there was one more or twenty more.
In response to econoff's question, Sasson replied that she
determined the date of establishment from documents she
received from the MOD. She was not aware that the GOI's
figures on outposts are different from the USG's figures
(note: the USG counts 55 pre-March 2001 outposts and 45
post-March 2001 outposts. End note).
Building and Demolishing
6. (C) Sasson continued that she did not know why settlers
picked the locations they did to establish outposts. She
noted, however, that they did not worry about getting any
approvals prior to moving their trailers into position. In
her research, she determined that the settlers simply built
outposts, let them grow and become established, and then got
the approvals after the fact. On her findings that some
outposts were built on private Palestinian land, Sasson
commented that sometimes it was difficult to prove the land
in fact belonged to Palestinians because they often did not
have titles to it. She said, however, that some of the land
the outposts was built on was clearly not State land, so the
outposts are illegal regardless because the GOI cannot build
on anything other than State land in the territories.
7. (C) On demolitions, Sasson assessed that the IDF would
not demolish any outposts without direct orders from PM
Sharon, even if the High Court approved the demolition
orders. She said she thought that "political reasons"
prevented the Prime Minister from evacuating any outposts.
Therefore, the result is that the IDF ignores court orders to
demolish outposts issued by the MOD because these orders do
not have any backing from the GOI. Sasson characterized this
as an "open conspiracy."
The Ministerial Committee and Looking Ahead
8. (C) Sasson said that Sharon had wanted to adopt her
report right away, and that the idea of forming a ministerial
committee instead came from Attorney General Menachem Mazuz.
She explained that Mazuz wanted Sharon's Cabinet to
understand Sasson's recommendations, to think about them
carefully, and to consider how to implement them. When asked
if Mazuz was sincere or simply stalling until disengagement
came around and everyone would forget about her report,
Sasson replied that she was confident that Mazuz wants the
committee members to really understand her recommendations
and how to implement them. (Comment: Sasson implied that,
since the GOI knew what was in her report before she
published it, Israeli officials would not have let her
publish the document in the first place if they intended to
deep-six it later. End comment.) However, she opined that,
while the committee is probably not trying to figure out a
way to ignore her report, she was not sure exactly what they
would do with it. Sasson also said that she will be meeting
with the committee members over the next three months to give
them more context on her findings and recommendations.
9. (C) When econoff asked Sasson when the final report would
be published since her report was termed "interim," she
responded that this was actually the final report and that
she is not doing any more research. Sasson explained that
she called it "interim" because she did not want people to
think that "this is the whole story." She said, "the whole
picture is so horrible, I didn't understand it."
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