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
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
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
"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.]