The following is the first phase of a project aimed at helping monitor outposts and clarify the potential difficulty in countering them for the sake of peace. The data is based in large part on extensive research conducted over years by the Peace Now organization, augmented with and cross-referenced by information from settlers and Haaretz correspondents.
An accompanying map of outposts can be found at http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1094773.html. It is, as is the lists of outposts below -- and the outposts themselves -- a work in progress.
Of the long list of hackneyed pro-Israel arguments which persuade no one except previously and permanently persuaded fellow-Israelis, none tops the tired clunker trotted out by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman in his U.S. visit to Washington this month.
Settlements in the West Bank, he told reporters after talks with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, are "not an obstacle to achieve peace."
Permit me at this point to save some time, and to speak candidly. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, whether they are willing to publicly acknowledge this or not, knows that obstacles are precisely what West Bank settlements were put there to be.
Settlements, whether considered legal or illegal, whether granted overt or blind-eye Israeli government sanction, or placed there by unruly-eyed fanatics who hate the Israeli government almost as much as they hate Arabs, have a common goal.
They were built to be explicit, intentional, physical, literal obstacles to any peace process that would include ceding West Bank land to Palestinians. And that, everyone knows, describes any conceivable future peace process.
Yes, they are also a place to live. And yes, the land they occupy may well be mentioned in the bible, even scores of times. And yes, generations of Jews have now been born and raised there. But this last only underscores the reason they are there.
It should be noted that at this point, there are in fact three distinct classes of West Bank settlements. The first are the government-approved enclaves on the "Israel side" of the West Bank barrier. Under a future peace deal, these are expected to be annexed to Israel, with an acreage-equivalent swath of the western Negev appended to an independent Palestine.
The second class, in every sense, are government-authorized settlements scattered across the West Bank, on the "Palestinian-side" of the fence/wall.
Finally, there are the outpost settlements, which Israel and even elements of the settler movement concede are illegal.
If the settlements are obstacles, the outposts are designed to be landmines. They are volatile, potentially explosive, often vaguely marked and defined.
They defend established settlements by creating a protective outer ring of obstructions to be cleared prior to any move to raze the older, larger, more solidly built enclaves.
And if Barack Obama and, for that matter, Benjamin Netanyahu, make any substantive moves toward Mideast peace, the number of these minefields is certain to mushroom.
The current list:
1. ADEI AD
2. AHAVAT HAIM
4. ALONEI SHILO, OR NOF KANEH FARM
5. ALTITUDE 468, or, NOFEI PRAT WEST.
7. ANCIENT SYNAGOGUE OF SUSYA
10. BAT AYIN EAST
11. BAT AYIN WEST
12. BEIT EL EAST
13. BNEI ADAM, OR ADAM EAST
14. BRACHA A
16. DERECH HA'AVOT
17. EIN PRAT
18. ELISHA, OR TZOFIT [PRE-IDF SERVICE ACADEMY]
20. ESH KODESH
21. GILAD FARM
22. GIVAT ASSAF
23. GIVAT HADAGAN
24. GIVAT HAHISH
25. GIVAT HAREL
26. GIVAT HATAMAR
27. GIVAT SALIT
28. GVA'OT OLAM
29. HABAYIT HA'ADOM, OR HADA'AT FARM
33. HAR HEMED
35. HARO'EH - ELI 762
For the entire list and the Outpost watch map, see the full article on haaretz.com: