Defense Minister Peretz
Photo: Ofer Amram
Photo: Amit Shabi
Illegal outpost near Yitzhar
Photo: Amit Shabi

Peretz's next step: Outpost evacuation

Aides to defense minister say 'he plans to go all the way in terms of issue of illegal outposts and in full force, even at the cost of a conflict with Olmert'

Defense Minister Amir Peretz has made it clear that his next step would be the evacuation of illegal outposts, aides to Peretz told Ynet Thursday evening.


According to the associates, Peretz "plans to go all the way on the issue of illegal outposts and in full force.


"He has been saying that illegal outposts must be evacuated for a long time, but now is the time to implement it. We cannot continue stalling. He is ready to do this even at the cost of a conflict with the prime minister."


The prime minister's aides said that the talks held in recent months with settler representatives have failed, and that "it was impossible to reach any agreement with them on this issue. Therefore, there will be no choice, but to evacuate outposts without an agreement and without understandings."


In closed talks held Wednesday evening, Peretz estimated that following the cabinet reshuffle, the government will become stable for a while.


According to Peretz, "Most of the Knesset factions don’t want the government to fall. There are always surprises, but the only thing that can bring down the government at the moment is stagnation in the diplomatic field."


Peretz supports the Saudi initiative and is in favor of strengthening relations with the moderate countries in the Middle East, as well as with moderate elements in the region.


"I already said a long time ago that the Saudi initiative should be taken seriously," the defense minister told his aides. "We must also remember that the agreement signed by Abu Mazen (Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas) and (Palestinian Prime Minister) Ismail Haniyeh came from Mecca, from the Saudis."


Own diplomatic agenda

In preparation for the primaries in the Labor Party, Peretz will attempt to create his own diplomatic agenda. However, he has not given a time frame for starting the process. He has not decided on a date for the Labor to leave the government if the talks are not renewed.  


"That will be determined according to the reality at the time and whose fault it is that the progress is at a standstill. We are not standing with a stop watch but we must deal with the diplomatic process," he said.


Peretz also mentioned billionaire Arcadi Gaydamak's political debut into political the world but did not appear to be worried. "Gaydamak is using the poor people. Buji (Isaac) Herzog will help them and provide for them," he declared.


Peretz's drawback is that he still holds the defense portfolio, and the public still considers him unqualified for the job.


During the last few months he seems to have gone through a makeover in his general conduct and the image he is trying to project. He has started to wear suits and ties, and avoids public debates and interviews to the press.


His advisors are trying to organize an official visit for him at the Pentagon to complete the transformation. This visit will probably take place in the next couple of weeks.


Defense ministry officials have said that as groundwork for the trip he is learning all about US-Israel relations and US history. "The defense minister is reading and learning a great deal towards this trip," said an official in the ministry to Ynet. "He definitely understands how badly he needed to change his approach."


פרסום ראשון: 02.22.07, 23:42
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