Until a few years ago, the small settlement of Harasha in the western part of the northern West Bank was defined as an outpost.
Harasha, on a hill 780 meters above sea level with a view of the Mediterranean coast, has a population of 30 families.
During Sharon’s term as infrastructure minister, he ordered Israeli water authority Mekorot to build a reservoir there.
Sharon humorously explained to the settlers, ‘You’ll put a guard at the reservoir. The guard is sure to get lonely. He’ll get married and have a family. The kids need company. Other families will come. There will be a prayer quorum, and a prayer quorum needs a synagogue. Women need a ritual bath. Kids need kindergartens and parks. That’s how we’ll turn the Harasha into a settlement.’
Within a few years, Sharon’s vision became a reality.
Settlers established many Strategic outposts with the purpose of creating settlementsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ contiguity and prevent the evacuation of isolated settlements. About 10 families reside in each.
In Itamar, a chain of six outposts were established. Six years ago settlers built an unpaved road to connect the six outposts to the Jordan Valley.
During the Barak government, in 2000, the outposts were given retroactive legal status, and the road was paved.
Shiloh and Shvut Rachel are among the other mountain settlements linked to the Jordan Valley via the older outposts of Ahiya and Adei Ad.
A semi-circle of outposts were established to link three settlements in the central part of the northern West Bank: Eli, Ma’aleh Levonah, and Shiloh.
This is an attempt to create a large bloc of settlements in the hope of connecting it to Shvut Rachel and its six settlements.
Nofei Nehemiya is another ‘connecting outpost’ linking Rachelim and Ariel settlements.
The settlers also see Havat Gilad outpost, halfway between Yizhar and Kedumim, as a connecting outpost, as Ramot Gilad and Alonei Shiloh outposts are seen as connecting Karnei Shomron and Immanuel settlements.
The settlers consider Megaron outpost as connecting Michmash and Kokhav Hashahar, with Psagot and Kokhav Yaakov settlements.
They see Givat Asaf outpost as connecting Ofra to Kokhav Yaakov and Psagot settlements.
In the southern West Bank, a road connects Susya settlement in the east to the settlement of Shema in the west. There is no Jewish population along this road, and so the connecting outpost of Asael was founded.
‘All through the years, the political level believed that contiguous settlement can and should be created,’ explained Adi Mintz, until recently director-general of the Yesha council of settlements.
‘The outposts were carefully planned and coordinated with the prime minister. Even Ben-Eliezer approved them. So the process of licensing the outposts has already begun. At one stage Sharon changed his attitude 180 degrees, at which point the system stopped cooperating. We are not lawbreakers and we are not the bad guy in this story.’ He added.