By Dani Dayan, Chairman of the Yesha Council
"What made the government - our government - decide to build outposts on the hilltops? Was it by chance? Someone's capricious move? Not at all. The outposts on the hilltops were meant to allow the Jewish settlements to live in security."
These unequivocal statements were made in October 1999 by the man who would, years later, father the Sasson report on outposts, the head of the opposition, Ariel Sharon.
And so, the common fib alleging that the so-called "hilltop youth" group of settlers came at night to take control of the hill of their choosing against the will of the authorities is nothing more than legend.
The settlements referred to as "outposts" were set up by the government, which decided to form small towns before the completion of the relevant formal procedures. The settlers were that government's envoys.
That is how the government chose to populate the land then. The government found it convenient - mostly because of foreign policy considerations - to pursue that policy rather than implement more transparent policies. That policy was a legitimate tool for a country engaged in a regional struggle, and it makes ridiculous the claim that the outposts were never approved.
The town of Bruchin lies near the Trans-Samaria Highway. What makes it seem illegal to Attorney Talia Sasson, who heads the committee on the so-called illegal outposts?
The decision to form Bruchin came from the ministerial committee on settlement in 1983. Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin approved the decision in 1988. Former defense minister Moshe Arens also gave his approval to Bruchin's construction several years later. The area designated for Bruchin was all state-owned.
The state approved the development of infrastructures for the town. The non-governmental pacifist organization Peace Now argues the state invested over $3 million in the town. Bruchin is now home to some 80 families, who most ly reside in permanent homes.
The government, following Sasson's lead and the media, claims that Bruchin is unauthorized and illegal.
Bruchin was authorized by the appropriate state authorities. The land it occupies is state land, and it has a detailed municipal outline. But since its formal approval process isn't completed, Sasson calls Bruchin an illegal outpost. And so, the Israel Electric Corporation does not upgrade the town's infrastructure.
On the western side of the Green Line lies Lehavot Haviva, a veteran kibbutz belonging to the Hashomer Hatzair movement. I do not know whether in 1949, when the kibbutz was established, or in 1951 when it was moved to its current locale, it was done as a government resolution.
What is certain is that the kibbutz was set up on lands that did not belong to the state.
Before it was moved to its current location, the authorities evicted the people of the Arab village Jalameh, in the framework of a plan by the Prime Minister's Office to "remove small Arab shanties and move their inhabitants to larger villages." The residents of the land were transferred to neighboring Arab villages.
Sasson is troubled by municipal blueprints that have been lawfully approved. Well, Lehavot Haviva has a blueprint which was approved in 1980 - 31 years (!) after the kibbutz was formed. For 31 years, the kibbutz had been, according to Sasson philosophy, an illegal outpost. And yet, no one demanded it be removed.
That was how the country was populated in the 1950s - and that's a good thing. Otherwise, the borders of Israel before the 1967 Six-Day War would have been without Jewish settlements to protect the bulk of its civilian population.
That used to be the procedure through which town and settlements were approved, and it was law. Compared to what went on in those years, the procedure for setting up the "outposts" is a temple of decorum and of justice. No one had been evicted from their homes for the formation of a Jewish settlement.
That was how the land was populated in the 1990s and in the early 2000s, and that's a good thing too. Otherwise, the government's policy for furthering Jewish settlement in the heart of the land would have gone unimplemented. That was the procedure for approving settlements. It was also the law.
The issue of the outposts is not a legal one, but a matter of foreign policy. Otherwise, the pledge to evacuate them would have been made to the president of the Supreme Court instead of the U.S. Secretary of State.
Among the bad inheritances that Sharon's cabinet bequeathed its successor is the asinine formula, which is also in the road map, which binds the war on terrorism with the freeze in construction in settlements and the uprooting of outposts.
It links the duty to fight a terrorist planning on exploding a man or a woman at a crowded cafe to the war against a young couple seeking nothing more sinister than building their home next to the parents' home.
We need to evict that immoral formula from our agenda.