The Israeli government plans an imminent crackdown on unauthorized West Bank settler outposts.
Vice Premier Haim Ramon said Friday that troops and police could be deployed as early as next week for a mass-removal of outposts erected in the West Bank without state approval. He indicated that the operation could be timed to coincide with President Bush’s visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority on January 9-11.
“I hope and assess that in the coming period and thereafter, during the U.S. president’s visit to Israel and afterwards, real steps will be taken to remove those outposts,” Ramon told Israel Radio.
The U.S.-led peace “road map” obligates Israel to remove all outposts from the West Bank, where the Palestinians want a state. But the government has yet to take any comprehensive actions.
Ramon did not say how many of the scores of outposts would be removed, but he predicted the crackdown would mostly take place east of the West Bank security fence, which many Israelis see as a future border with Palestine.
Speaking to Reuters on Thursday, Bush made clear he considers the settlements a serious issue to be raised the Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert during his visit.
“I will talk about Israeli settlement expansion, about how that is, that can be, you know, an impediment to success,” Bush said. “The unauthorized outposts for example need to be dismantled, like the Israelis said they would do.”
“I hope and assess that in the coming period and thereafter, during the U.S. president’s visit to Israel and afterwards, real steps will be taken to remove those outposts,”