Israeli Defense Minister, Amir Peretz, said that he is considering
granting legal status to some illegal settlement outposts in the
occupied West Bank, in exchange for which the Yesha Council of
Settlements will evacuate the rest, Israeli online daily Haaretz
Peretz held several meetings in recent days with settler leaders in the West Bank. The leaders said that talks with Peretz would continue on the evacuation of outposts and legalizing other illegal outposts.
Haaretz added that Brigadier General Mike Herzog, Chief of Staff Peretz's office, is expected to lead the negotiations with the Council of settlements.
Peretz said that illegal outposts will be eliminated, yet all settlements and settlement outposts in the West Bank are constructed on Palestinian annexed lands and constitute a war crime in accordance to the international law.
During a meeting with the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee this week, Peretz said that he will give talks with the settlers a period of two weeks, after which the evacuation orders could be carried out by force.
Also, Peretz said that the government is not interested in confrontation with the settlers in areas which could be peacefully evacuated.
Haaretz reported that Peretz held a meeting on Wednesday with Amana secretary general, Ze'ev Hever, as part of the talks between the government and the settlement leadership on the future of the outposts. Amana is a settlement movement which is considered the arm of Gush Emunim (Bloc of Faith).
Peretz and Hever discussed the evacuation of some illegal outposts in exchange for “legalizing” the rest of the outposts.
The office of Israel's Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, was informed on the discussions which, according to Haaretz report, could lead to an agreement between the government and the Yesha council.
Yet, the lands of some of the illegal outposts will not be returned back to their legitimate Palestinian owners; Givat Asaf outpost, near Beit El in the northern part of the West Bank, will be evacuated but a military base will be built on the site.