World Tribune.com

Israeli military reviews illegal settlements

Special to World Tribune.com
MIDDLE EAST NEWSLINE
Tuesday, April 29, 2003

JERUSALEM Israel's military has launched a review of more than 100 unauthorized Jewish outposts in the West Bank.

Officials said the effort was being conducted in coordination with the Defense Ministry. They said the review would include the location and nature of each outpost deemed as having been established without government permission.

"These illegal outposts are in different categories," Deputy Defense Minister Ze'ev Boim said. "Those that have no legitimacy should be removed."

Boim said the location of the outpost would be a significant factor in any government decision. He said those outposts in the Etzion Bloc south of Bethlehem would be given preferred status because of what he termed was the Israeli consensus to retain the area in any settlement with the Palestinians.

Another criteria includes the type of land on which the outpost was constructed. Officials said outposts established on private land bought by Israelis would probably not be removed.

Officials said more than 100 unauthorized outposts were established around the West Bank over the last two years. The Defense Ministry was said to have deemed about 70 of the outposts completely illegal.

The military has been ordered to dismantle two of the outposts over the next few days. Both of outposts are around the southern West Bank city of Hebron.

Some of the outposts consist of little more than a mobile home and a water tower. A few of the outposts have grown into neighborhoods that contain both permanent and temporary housing.

The removal of the Jewish outposts has been a major demand by the Palestinian Authority and its supporters in the international community. The United States has urged Israel to deem the removal of the outposts a priority as part of the implementation of a roadmap for an end to the Israeli-Palestinian war and negotiations for a Palestinian state. The United States is expected to formally release the roadmap on Wednesday, following a vote by the Palestinian legislature to approve the new Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas.

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