Speaking at a meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Israeli Defense Minister, Shaul Mofaz said Monday that soldiers would be responsible for carrying out evacuation of settlements in the Gaza Strip and northern West Bank under the unilateral disengagement plan.
Mofaz also said Police will deal with settlers who disobeyed evacuation orders.
Media sources quoted Mofaz as saying that Army would call up large numbers of reserve soldiers to help in the evacuation.
Mofaz’s adviser Baruch Spiegel said, 82 of 104 West Bank outposts have been dismantled since March 2001, when Ariel Sharon became prime minister.
Knesset Member from Meretz-Yahad party, Youssi Sarid, on the other hand, questioned Spiegel’s claims saying it is ‘false and baseless numbers.’
The military establishment is working to dismantle an additional 22 illegal outposts, although some of the evacuations are being delayed by residents’ petitions to the High Court of Justice, Spiegel said.
On the other hand, Haaretz newspaper online said, ‘Sarid lashed out at Mofaz during the meeting, calling him ‘the principal collaborator of the settlers.’
Sarid said the unauthorized outposts could not have been set up without the cooperation of the security establishment.
‘All the illegal outposts are Sharon-Mofaz outposts. Now you’re lucky enough that the president of the United States, George Bush, who is now fighting for his political life, is also prepared to cooperate with you,’ Sarid added.
The Bush administration had signaled flexibility on some limited growth in West Bank settlements to help Sharon against the Likud rebels and others in his government opposing his unilateral disengagement plan.
Palestinian Cabinet Minister Saeb Erikat said Sunday that not only the road map, but also any hope for future peace talks will be ruined if Washington accept growth of settlements in the West bank.
Palestinians, who expressed concerns that the claimed Gaza pullout is only used to cover strengthening Israel’s hold on West Bank settlements.
‘That is destroying the road map. That is what destroys the peace process and the two-state solution,’ Erikat told Reuters.
Meanwhile, Israel has begun, earlier this month, building 100 new housing units in the Har Gilo, settlement outside Jerusalem which houses around 120 families, political sources said Monday.
Additionally, Israeli plans to build more than 530 new housing units in different West Bank settlements, mostly near Jerusalem. Construction of these 630 units is expected to be done by the end of 2005.
Last week the Housing Ministry published tenders for the construction of 1,000 housing units in Betar Illit, Ma’aleh Adumim, Ariel and Karnei Shomron.