Israel agrees to a 'tolerable' level of Palestinian attacks

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Israel's military has begun dismantling unauthorized Jewish outposts in the West Bank and has also relayed its agreement to accept what a senior official termed a "tolerable level" of Palestinian attacks on the Jewish state.

The assertion came from a senior official who served as an envoy of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and discussed the "roadmap" with the Bush administration in April and May. The roadmap calls for the establishment of an interim Palestinian state by the end of the year.

"We want terrorism to go down to a tolerable level," Dov Weisglass, head of Sharon's bureau, told American Jewish leaders. "All we are asking the PA [Palestinian Authority] is to do is to reduce terrorism to a tolerable level."

Weisglass briefed the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations on June 5 in a teleconference.

Israeli troops, backed by paramilitary Border Guards, military police and civilian police, have launched an effort to evacuate and dismantle 15 outposts in the West Bank in the first stage of a government mission to determine the fate of more than 100 unauthorized sites established over the last 31 months. More than 30 of the outposts are inhabited.

On Monday, the troops dismantled 10 outposts in a mission that encountered little resistance. Officials said 15 outposts were slated to be evacuated in the first phase of the mission, expected to last several days.

Weisglass said the Sharon government would not accept a ceasefire agreement by Palestinian insurgents. Instead, he said, Sharon was insisting that the ceasefire be "permanent and real."

Weisglass said the Bush administration did not impose any pressure on the Sharon government to accept the roadmap. He said Jordan, the PA and the United States provided Sharon with a "wonderful" reception during the summit in Aqaba last week.

Earlier, Israeli sources said Weisglass had warned ministers of the ruling Likud Party that an Israeli veto of the roadmap would result in U.S. sanctions. On Thursday, the Israeli Haaretz daily quoted a tense exchange between President George Bush and Israeli leaders during the Aqaba summit.

The newspaper, quoting a participant in the meeting, reported an argument between Bush and Sharon over such issues as the release of Palestinian funding by Israel and security cooperation between Israel and the PA.

"We have a problem with Sharon I can see," Bush was quoted as later telling National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.

American Jewish leaders who attended the briefing said Weisglass was often inconsistent regarding Israel's positions toward the PA.

During his meeting with Jewish leaders, Weisglass expressed doubt over whether Palestinian incitement against Israel would end. He also said Israel does not have the police force required to stop what he termed was illegal Arab construction in and around Jerusalem.

Weisglass also discussed Sharon's strategy in implementing the roadmap. He said the Israeli prime minister does not plan to obtain Palestinian or U.S. assurances regarding the future of Jerusalem or the Palestinian demand for refugee to return to the Jewish state.

Instead, he said, Sharon plans to shelve these issues until what Weisglass termed were permanent status talks scheduled in 2004 and 2005. He said by that time the PA will have gone too far to renege on its pledge to end terrorism. Under the roadmap, a Palestinian state will have permanent borders in 2005.

"If we do it at the end of this [permanent status talks], then the Palestinians will find it very difficult to return to terrorism," Weisglass said.

"This [evacuation] is to demonstrate to the Americans that we are ready to evacuate the settlements in Judea, Samaria [West Bank] and the Gaza Strip or part of it," Pinchas Wallerstein, head of the Binyamin Regional Council, regarded as a Jewish settlement leader, said. "This is the way this must be seen. The Israeli government has decided to evacuate 15 [outposts] and if this goes quickly, the next stage will follow immediately."

The head of the military's Central Command, Maj. Gen. Moshe Kaplinsky, met with Jewish settlement leaders and relayed them a list of 15 outposts for destruction. Kaplinsky and later Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz appealed to the settlement leaders to abandon any plans for resistance.

The settlement leaders refused and by Monday evening Israeli troops and bulldozers moved to destroy Jewish outposts. The most serious opposition was reported in the Ramallah-area outpost of Amonah.

Still, no violence was reported in the military's dismantling of the outposts and one site was evacuated by Jewish settlers. Jewish settlement leaders vowed to establish new outposts for those dismantled. [On Tuesday, Israel's military failed in attempt to kill a Hamas leader in Gaza City. Two Israeli helicopters fired anti-tank missiles toward the vehicle of Abdul Aziz Rentisi, regarded as the heir to Hamas founder Ahmed Yassin and spokesman of the group. Rentisi was said to have been lightly injured and at least two passersby were killed.]

Print this Article Print this Article Email this article Email this article Subscribe to this Feature Free Headline Alerts
Search Worldwide Web Search Search WorldTrib Archives

See current edition of

Return to World Front Cover