In a move that has not been seen for some time, Police and Civil Administration forces arrived at the Maoz Ester outpost Thursday morning to clear seven tin huts and several youths. No violent incidents were recorded. A building was recently demolished in the area, leading to violent acts on the part of local residents.
"I did not give any special order regarding Maoz Ester," Barak said, "the evacuation was carried out within the framework of the general guidelines I had instated, according to which any new outpost must be dismantled immediately. We have an obligation to uphold the law."
The defense minister made it clear to the heads of the Yesha Council that "we cannot accept this phenomenon of illegal outposts, particularly those being erected on Palestinian land."
"In any case," Barak told the Labor faction meeting, "this evacuation had nothing to do with the Americans or any pressure exerted by them. The evacuation of illegal outposts is part of society's obligation to itself. A law abiding society cannot tolerate attempts by citizens to reject the state's sovereignty over them."
As for US President Barack Obama plan to promote a new regional peace initiative for the Middle East, Barak said "Labor and President Shimon Peres have been working to advance this idea for some time now.
"Of course we will have to examine the details and uphold Israel's vital security-related interests, but all in all, the concept of regional peace is the right way to go," he said.
The defense minister said he plans to visit Washington in two weeks at the request of his American counterpart, Robert gates.