Barak To Take Down 12 Outposts
SHVUT RACHEL, West Bank (AP) _ Foiled in his attempt to start the removal of illegal West Bank settlements Tuesday, Prime Minister Ehud Barak insisted that his decision to take down 12 outposts will be implemented.
Following through on an agreement with Barak, the Settlers’ Council, which represents 200,000 Jewish settlers in the West Bank, sent a truck to haul a trailer off a hilltop near the settlement of Shvut Rachel, but young settlers blocked the way.
Singing and chanting, the demonstrators, some of them the children of the official settler leaders, moved boulders into the roadway to stop the truck.
In a statement, Barak said he expected the Settlers’ Council to live up to the agreement in which Barak cut the number of settler outposts to be removed from 15 to 12.
However, a member of the council, Pinhas Wallerstein, said, ``We are not outpost-removal contractors.″
In all, settlers have erected 42 outposts on isolated hilltops after last year’s signing of the Wye River land-for-security agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. The settlers said they wanted to hold on to as much land as possible and prevent it from being handed over to the Palestinians in future peace agreements. Most outposts consist of a few trailers, a water tower and a generator.
Tuesday’s protest underscored the growing rift between veteran settler leaders seeking dialogue with Barak and a small group of firebrand activists trying to hold on to settlements at all costs.
``God gave us the chance to be here. We’re Jews. We have the land and we are not leaving it,″ Daniella Weiss, a settler leader, said to cheers from the small crowd near Shvut Rachel, many of them students from a nearby Jewish seminary.
The protest was led by a new group called, Dor Hahemshech, Hebrew for ``The Second Generation,″ which feels the leaders of the movement are losing their enthusiasm. Many of the group’s members were born and raised in settlements.
``We are against the peace movement’s ideology of being tired, of just wanting quiet,″ said Shivi Drori, a member of the group from Givat Harel, one of the settlement outposts.
He said he and his supporters would resist government attempts to dismantle outposts, but would not use violence.