Just a couple of days following the first official meeting between PM Netanyahu and President Obama it has become clear that Obama demanded that outposts be evacuated.
Just today Israel forcibly evacuated the outpost of Maoz Esther (pictured to the right), removing the seven metal caravans-turned-homes and forcing the youth present to leave–there were no accounts of violence.
During the Clinton years, Israel would evacuate such outposts while rapidly expanding other settlements. This is still holding true as just in the last few months settlement expansion has been seen at settlements such as Eli, Rechelim, Ma’aleh Michmash and Kochav Hashahar. When I was in Kiryat Arba I also witnessed new housing construction, and likewise while in Bethlehem I could see what appeared to be new homes being built in Har Gilo and Neve Daniel.
So it is clear that Netanyahu is doing the same thing he (and Barak and Sharon and Olmert) did in his last tenure in office, acceding minimally to American demands of evacuating outposts while simultaneously expanding settlements. It will be interesting to see if Obama and Clinton can hold Israel to fulfill American demands or if Israel will be able to continue actively changing the “facts on the ground” and further their grip over the future Palestinian state.