Prime Minister Olmert of Israel emphatically told his ministers that all illegal outposts on the West Bank must be dismantled as soon as possible. He termed the outposts, which were build withoout authorization by government authorities, to be a “disgrace” which should be remedied as soon as possible in order to put Israel in accordance with the road map laid out for peace negotiations with Palestinians. His comments came days after President Bush had commented those installations “ought to go” for the future of peace. Olmert told his colleagues, that Bush, “repeated the absolute commitment of the US that no agreement between us and the Palestinians can be implemented on the ground before the full implementation of the road map both in Gaza and the West Bank.”
Israel’s government has a choice– give up a few dozen scattered outposts that mainly provide home to a few hundred people or give up possession of housing that provides homes for 250,000 Jewish settlers. It is clear the Olmert government is going to protect the existing West Bank settlements and will not pay much attention to the needs of a few hundred settlers. The question ignored by Bush and Olmert is why should Palestinian leaderes accept loss of land to settlers who initially entered territory that was not part of the original state of Israel carved out by the UN?