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June 2009 Archives

An examination of the 2009-2010 state budget shows nearly 1 billion shekels are explicitly designated for settlements

A new Peace Now analysis of Israel's 2009-2010 state budget shows that the Israeli government still grants West Bank settlers preferential treatment.

The new report shows that settlement local councils receive a much higher percentage of financial transfers from the government than the settlers' proportion in Israeli society and that per-capita gross investment in public construction in West Bank settlements (not including East Jerusalem) is more than triple the investment in public construction within the Green Line.

The analysis also shows that at least 16 illegal outposts enjoy support from the Agriculture Ministry's Settlement Division. It shows that Settlers who export goods to Europe receive millions of shekels to compensate for loss of tax discounts in the European Union, which does not recognize exports from as part of the Israeli-European free-trade agreement.

The report shows how the government of Israel grants settlers a variety of benefits, even though most settlers need them less than the larger proportion of low-income Israelis who reside within the state of Israel.

To view the report click here.

May Flam - a volunteer with Peace Now in Israel - talks about her experience monitoring settlement construction in the West Bank.
Peace Now said some 2,500 settlement homes are currently under construction in the West Bank.
APN's Ori Nir believes President Obama can persuade Prime Minister Netanyahu to back up his general acceptance of a Palestinian state with constructive actions.

Red Cross: "Gaza: 1.5 million people trapped in despair."

The Red Cross published a report yesterday titled "Gaza: 1.5 million people trapped in despair." The report describes Gazans' efforts to rebuild their lives in the wake of Israel's Operation Cast Lead, and the obstacles presented by Israel's policy of economic blockade and restrictions on aid, reconstruction and movement.

APN's Debra DeLee: "Settlements undermine Israel's efforts to reach a two-state solution...and therefore undermine Israel's future as a democratic, Jewish state."

Peace Now Political Tour of Jerusalem's Old City

On June 25, 2009, Peace Now organized a tour bringing to view the political issues and realities of Jerusalem's Old City...

Peace Now's "Isreality 2009" Campaign

"Isreality 2009 -- in this show/reality, we all lose" is the slogan being used in ads, flyers, and other materials

Yedioth Ahronoth: "Temporary Freeze"

Peace Now's Yariv Oppenheimer: "...we are the only ones fighting on the ground so that there will be two states for two peoples..."

Washington Post: "Outlook Preview"

There are more than 450,000 settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, according to Peace Now, an Israeli organization that opposes the settlements...
"Just like my friends and I from the left are obligated to guard settlements and outposts, it is thus incumbent upon soldiers with a rightwing outlook to take part in eviction activities, both from legal reasons and the political verdict..."
Hagit Ofran, a settlement expert at Peace Now...said the proposal originated several years ago....Peace Now has also filed an objection.
APN spokesman Ori Nir said Netanyahu "may be able to convince Americans he is peace-seeking." But Nir speculated that the threshold is higher than before...
"...there are few reasons to think Israel has reversed the trend, said Hagit Ofran, a settlement expert for Peace Now, a settlement watchdog group."

APN Legislative Round-Up - June 26, 2009

1. New Bills and Resolutions; 2. Update on FY09 Supplemental; 3. FY10 ForOps Season Opens; 4. Berman on Iran; 5. Taking On Elliot Abrams Over Settlements (new APN blog post)

June 29, 2009 - Vol. 10, Issue 40

Disrespecting Obama; Caveats on a Settlement Freeze; Roadblock Removal; Welcoming Palestinian Unity; East Jerusalem Reversal; Hummus for Peace

BBC News: "US-Israel talks in Paris aborted"

Israeli anti-settlement group Peace Now said on Wednesday that the rise in settler numbers is considerably greater than the birth-rate.

JTA: "Israel Wrestles with Settler Conundrum"

A 2006 report by Peace Now found that 40 percent of Jewish settlement territory was built on privately owned Palestinian land.
Peace Now's Hagit Ofran, who alerted reporters to the line item in the draft budget, said pushing ahead with Har Homa construction would be "unwise."

AP: "Report: Israel plans to legalize, expand outpost"

The Peace Now group, which opposes Israeli settlements, has also filed an objection.
The Peace Now anti-settlement watchdog said that the settlement spending in the two-year budget was likely to be higher and "spread over several sections of the budget."

New settlement approved 2 days after Bibi-Obama meeting

The top news story in today's Middle East Peace Report offers a real scoop. Just two days after Netanyahu met with Obama in the Oval Office, Israel approved construction at a new settlement site. While the approval for new construction in the settlements is being reported on in the Israeli press today, nobody else seems to have yet realized that the decision was approved immediately after the Netanyahu-Obama meeting.

Possible Egyptian initiative, with US backing, to put together a "mega-deal" involving Israel, Hamas and Fateh...? On failed strategies for Hamas in Gaza...?
"The data is based in large part on extensive research conducted over years by the Peace Now organization"
Come hear from Nathan Guttman and Salameh Nematt, two of the most prominent Israeli and Arab journalists reporting out of Washington, DC.

The Settlers' Lawyer (or, Elliott Abrams Is At It Again)

On May 23, 2005, the Washington Post ran a an incisive op-ed by former State Department negotiator and Middle East advisor Aaron Miller, entitled "Israel's Lawyer," in which Aaron argued "For far too long, many American officials involved in Arab-Israeli peacemaking, myself included, have acted as Israel's attorney..." I was reminded of that article when I read today's piece by Elliott Abrams in the Wall Street Journal, which should, I believe, have been entitled "The West Bank Settlers' Lawyer."

Ultimate Chutzpah

The following was written by our intern, Dan Fischer:

APN's Ori Nir told me that when he was a teenager in Israel, he used to play with his friends the "ultimate chutzpah" game. They would try to one-up each other by completing the sentence: "The ultimate chutzpah would be..."

Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor "drown them in the Red Sea" Lieberman scored high last week when he complained to the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Security Committee that Israel has bad PR internationally.

Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu one-upped even Lieberman Tuesday.

Settlement Nonsense from Bibi, Settlement Construction from Barak

The top headline in this morning's Haaretz is priceless: Netanyahu is arguing that a settlement freeze is a "waste of time" when the important thing is to focus on the real issues: the need for the Palestinians to recognize Israel (which of course they have already done) and the need for the Palestinians and the world to accept that a Palestinian state must be demilitarized (which, again, they have already done).  While, of course, Israel will at the same time continue to build in settlements to accommodate "natural growth" - something Netanyahu argues is completely consistent with sending a message that Israel is serious about peace.

All of which would ring hollow under any circumstances, but especially when the headline just a couple below this one reads "Barak Authorizes Construction of 300 Homes in the West Bank." 

June 22, 2009 - Vol. 10, Issue 39

Overcoming Palestinian Divisions? Palestinians Support Two-State Solution; Bibi Speech Plays Populist Card; No Freeze in Settlement Funding; Building Settlements to Stop Peace; Reform Movement Backs Obama on Peace, Settlements
How would you assess the effects of President Obama's Cairo speech? What about a demilitarized Palestinian State? Any tips for those following the current unrest in Iran?

Debunking Netanyahu's Statements on Settlements

Last week, my colleague Lara Friedman of APN and Peace Now's Settlement Watch Director Hagit Ofran published an excellent report debunking the common (bogus) arguments made by those who oppose a West Bank settlements freeze.

Following is an article by Talia Sasson, the author of the famous Sasson Report, pointing out the hollowness of Netanyahu's statements in his Bar Illan speech on settlements. Her article is published in today's Yedioth Ahronoth.

Together - perhaps with the addition of Dan Kurtzer recent Washington Post article debunking Netanyahu's contention that there are Israeli-American understandings about continued West Bank settlement construction - these pieces serve to solidify the Obama administration's justified, uncompromising demand for a comprehensive settlement freeze.

Why a "credible" peace process matters?

For years, APN has pressed the need for a peace process to be credible in the eyes of Palestinians and Israelis. A credible peace process is vital for Israel and for peace, we said.

APN Legislative Round-Up - June 19, 2009

1. New Bills and Resolutions; 2. Update on FY09 Supplemental; 3. FY10 ForOps Season Opens; 4. Avigdor Lieberman Does DC; 5. From the recent archives: Debunking the demand for "Recognition-Plus"
APN is joining with a wide array of Jewish organizations to participate in this Father's Day initiative on behalf of Gilad Shalit
APN's Ori Nir says most American Jews and Israelis support the peace process as laid out in the 2003 roadmap.
In the past year Israel expropriated new land at least four times - some 275 dunams - Peace Now says.

IPS: "Parsing Netanyahu's Palestinian State"

APN's Briefing call is referenced, plus quotes from Peace Now Leader Galia Golan: "The problem is all the other caveats [Netanyahu] puts on the nature of a Palestinian state..."
Yariv Oppenheimer of the anti-settlement watchdog group Peace Now said Israel was likely to use any U.S. flexibility to ramp up building in the West Bank.

APN Ad for June, 2009

The ad utilizes a quote from President Obama's speech in Cairo, Egypt...

Some very encouraging signs, from DC and beyond

Earlier today we published our latest edition of Settlements in Focus, "Top 5 Bogus Excuses for Opposing a Settlement Freeze." The response has been tremendous -- clearly, many many people are sick of spin and want real facts.

This response is very encouraging.  Also encouraging is the experience of the past two weeks, during which I brought Hagit Ofran - the head of Peace Now's Settlement Watch and the foremost expert on West Bank settlements - and Danny Seidemann of Ir Amim - the foremost expert on everything related to Jerusalem land and settlement issues - to meeting on Capitol Hill and in the Obama Administration.  From these meetings - more than 30 on the Hill and with Administration officials - it was clear: this Administration is absolutely serious about Israeli-Palestinian peace.  And this Administration is resolute in its demand for a total settlement freeze.  And Democrats in Congress are firmly behind President Obama.

So that's another very encouraging sign.

And here's one more: today's op-ed in the Wall Street Journal by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.  It's a powerful statement, expressing hope for and commitment to Israeli-Arab peace, and making clear that if Israel takes serious steps toward peace (perhaps a settlement freeze?) the Arab world stands ready to reciprocate.   It is just one more encouraging sign of the times.

Issues covered include 'Natural Growth', Settlement 'Blocs', Internal vs. External Expansion, Previously approved construction, and Subsidies and incentives...

June 19, 2009

The prize for this week's most stupid remark has to go to the officials, officers and experts who described Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the candidate Israel prefers to win the election in Iran
APN's Ori Nir: "Because [Obama] is so popular and his sincerity is so impressive, the American public and the Jewish community as well understand..."
APN's founder discusses President Obama's engagement in the peace process and prospects for progress

Interview with Professor Mark Rosenblum from Jerusalem

APN's founder discusses President Obama's engagement in the peace process and prospects for progress
At the end of a week of speculation and mounting expectations, after Netanyahu's speech at Bar Ilan University, we can say loud and clear: the Emperor has no clothing.
Professors Shibley Telhami and Galia Golan respond to Netanyahu's June 14 speech and to the elections in Lebanon and Iran.
Professors Galia Golan and Shibley Telhami respond to Netanyahu's speech and to the elections in Lebanon and Iran.
Peace Now covers the worrying elements of the speech in what they call "a rerun of Netanyahu from his first term"

June 15, 2009 - Vol. 10, Issue 38

Fervently Orthodox settlements like these account for the majority of growth in the settlements today, said Hagit Ofran, who coordinates Peace Now's settlement-monitoring division.

CNN: "Israeli settlers wary, defiant in West Bank"

Around 280,000 Jewish settlers live in 121 settlements -- almost 200,000 more live in East Jerusalem, according to the Israeli-based Peace Now group

Articles following PM Netanyahu's 6/14/09 Speech

From JTA, JTA Blog and Yedioth Ahronoth: "Peace Now officials criticized the speech, saying, 'It's a rerun of Netanyahu from his first term'."
Faulty analysis of the Israeli settlement issue is being passed off as fact. Charles Krauthammer's June 5 column, "The Settlements Myth," is one example.

Peace Now response to Bibi Netanyahu's Speech

The Israeli Peace Now movement issued the following statement in response to Netanyahu's speech yesterday:

Now that Nethanyahu's speech is behind us, we can prepare for the upcoming Washington visit of Avigdor Lieberman, Netanyahu's foreign minister.

Lieberman is arriving Tuesday night and will meet here with Secretary Clinton (on Wednesday) National Security Advisor Jones (on Thursday) and with congressional leaders.

Lieberman is a man on a mission. His goal: to improve Israel's image abroad. Last Tuesday, I kid you not, Lieberman was quoted as telling the Knesset's Security and Foreign Affairs Committee that Israel "cannot continue with a successful foreign policy without changing the way we are perceived" internationally. He lamented: "We have a fundamental problem: we are not perceived well."

Could it be that Mr. Lieberman, Israel's number one PR agent, has something to do with this image problem?

For those who need a reminder, here is my colleague Lara Friedman's compilation of Lieberman's greatest hits:

Debra DeLee, APN's President and CEO: "Israelis and their neighbors need to see tangible results. Momentum toward peace can only be generated if all parties to the conflict take the kind of bold measures that President Obama is calling for.

Netanyahu's missed opportunity

While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did indicate his willingness to accept a demilitarized Palestinian state today, his (link has expired) speech overall missed the opportunity to move Israel closer to peace.

The Speech That Bibi won't Give

[this was posted today on the Washington Post - Newsweek PostGlobal]

The Speech Netanyahu Won't Give
By Ori Nir

Here's what Benyamin Netanyahu should - but most likely won't - say in his much-anticipated policy speech on Sunday.

APN Legislative Round-Up - June 12, 2009

1. Update on Foreign Relations Authorization Act; 2. Excerpts from HR 2410 Floor Debate; 3. Update on the FY09 Supplemental

Israel's Chief Justice lashes out over outposts

Israel's High Court Chief Justice Dorit Beinisch lashed out at the Israeli government for failing to take action against illegal settlement construction.

"For years, we have been hearing from you about demolition orders that the authorities issue," Chief Justice Beinisch scolded the government lawyer. "But each time, nothing happens. You keep saying the law must be observed, and this is obvious. But, then, it is your duty to honor what you say."
APN's Ori Nir provides the speech he would like the Prime Minister to give on Sunday (first in JTA and then on its own on Washington Post/Newsweek online)
(Peace Now's) Hagit Ofran...said that the first phase of the road map required Israel to freeze settlements, and the original deadline in May 2003 for Israel to do that was one week.
Go HERE to watch the video interview
Israel has applied the law to 16 percent of West Bank land since it began using the tactic in 1980, says Hagit Ofran, the head of the settlement watch project at the Peace Now watchdog.
the Foreign Ministry dispatched the head of Peace Now, Yariv Oppenheimer, to meet with journalists in Cairo
"For years we have heard about demolition ordered issued by authorities, but the answers received are always general and vague," Beinisch said in response to a Peace Now petition

Biased Polls Commissioned by Israeli Right

The polls cited today in the Associated Press story (and carried by Haaretz, JTA and others) which allegedly found that most Israelis back continued settlement construction, were commissioned by a far-right Israeli organization and by the settlers' University of Ariel. The questions - surprise, surprise - are skewed accordingly.

Unfortunately, AP neglected to mention who commissioned the poll and neglected to quote the actual questions.

Read the Latest Posts at The Peace Now Blog

Look for breaking news and commentary, and offer your comments at The Peace Now Blog

Breaking News: Bibi Is Considering a Temporary Settlement Freeze

Israel's Channel 2 Hebrew-language news just aired the story that Prime Minister Netanyahu is considering adopting a temporary freeze in settlement activity.  Hebrew speakers can listen to the broadcast here.

Since we are lucky enough to have Peace Now Settlement Watch director Hagit Ofran in the office right now, we thought we'd interview her for her reaction to the report and her analysis of what it means.

Americans for Peace Now spokesman Ori Nir also said it was a "legitimate concern," but pointed to some complications because certain things are "in the eye of the beholder."

How low the right can go

In case there was any question about how low the right will go to stop President Obama from making any progress towards peace for Israel, here's one example:

Peace Now's lawyer, Michael Sfard, blasted the state, saying that after waiting for three years, he had expected it to propose a program, including a timetable, for demolishing all the illegal Jewish building in the territories.
APN's Ori Nir: "Our opinion is supportive of Obama's interpretation of the road map, and that is, a freeze is a freeze,"
A discussion with Israeli experts on settlements and Jerusalem, Hagit Ofran and Daniel Seidemann
"Israel has flagrantly violated the American administration's restrictions on construction in the territories in the past year," says Peace Now Secretary General Yariv Oppenheimer.

JTA Blog: "Reform rabbis back Obama on settlements"

The president's demand for a stop to all settement activity in Israel is "in the best interest of the United States, of the State of Israel, and of peace."

Is change sweeping the Middle East?

In the lead-up to Netanyahu's foreign policy speech next week, it is clear that the Middle East is hungry for a new course.

Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel's largest circulation newspaper, today publishes an interesting investigative piece on the state of settlement construction in the West Bank. If you closely follow Peace Now's reports on settlement construction, you are probably familiar with the data -- at least with the general trends.

Here is Yedioth's story:

West Bank settler: Settlements don't Harm Palestinians

You've got to read it to believe it: An American Jewish settler, Aaron U. Raskas, sitting at the poolside, at his settlement of Rimonim near Ramallah, marveling at the sight of little settler kids splashing water, and telling fellow Americans that West Bank settlements do no damage to Palestinians.

Did President Obama's Cairo speech bring us closer to a peace process? View of parallels and comparisons that were in the speech?

June 8, 2009 - Vol. 10, Issue 37

Netanyahu Plans New Rhetoric; Israeli Responses to Obama's Speech; Israelis Ready for a Settlement Freeze; Helping Israel Where It Counts; Paying for Settler Violence
Senior U.S. officials, including special Mideast envoy George Mitchell, say they might propose immediate talks on setting the West Bank's borders, in view of Israel's opposition to a freeze on settlement construction.

Forward: "Waiting Game: What Did Abbas Mean?"

In a private meeting in Washington (attended by APN's Ori Nir), the Palestinian president spoke of his willingness to resume talks without pre-conditions...

Ahram: "Flying in the face of America"

"What Netanyahu and other Israeli officials call 'natural growth' is actually a systematic and well-planned scheme aimed at killing the prospect of a viable Palestinian state," said a (Peace Now) spokesman
"Now he is showing great determination and courage, knowing what is needed to lead such a momentous effort," (APN Spokesman) Nir said.
In a poll commissioned by Peace Now last year, 73% of respondents said they had not visited the West Bank in recent years
APN's Ori Nir says that the president's speech represents a "rare moment in history" and anyone who rejects it will "owe a piercing explanation" to people in the region and Americans.

The Washington Post gets it spectacularly wrong on settlements

The Washington Post got it spectacularly, shamefully wrong on settlements this weekend.  In its Sunday lead editorial, the WP called on Obama to back down on the demand for a settlement freeze, arguing in essence that (a) no Israeli government could agree to totally freeze settlements, and (b) in any case, the Palestinians have already agreed that Israel will ultimately keep many settlements, so it makes no sense to use up political capital demanding that Israel stop construction in such areas.  Both arguments are wrong and the policy the WP suggests - that Obama give up the demand for a settlement freeze, is misguided in the extreme.

APN Legislative Round-Up - June 5, 2009

1. Bills and Resolutions; 2. Update on FY09 Supplemental Appropriations Bill; 3. Congress and the Obama Middle East agenda

Israeli Legislation with Consequences

The following entry was prepared by Dan Fischer, an intern in APN's Washington office:

Last week, Agivdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu party and Netanyahu's cabinet championed a series of proposals which threatened Israelis' freedom of speech and appeared to target Israel's Arab population. This legislation is in deep discord with the values that Israel was founded on.

I just read this important and insightful reaction to President Obama's Cairo speech, entitled (on the NYT website) "Forcing Clarity on Israel."  The short essay (and I recommend reading the whole thing) concludes as follows:  "Once Israelis grow accustomed to the new tenor emanating from Washington, we may see today's speech in a different light. Barack Obama may or may not bring peace to the Middle East, but he may well force clarity, and perhaps disciplined policy, on an Israeli society that has long desperately needed it."

What is even more remarkable than the content of this essay is the source:

Israelis back settlement freeze, Palestinian state

Here are some interesting findings from a public opinion poll published in Israel today by Yedioth

Listen to Debra DeLee, APN President & CEO, and Aaron Miller, currently at the Wilson Center in Washington, in discussion with APN Spokesman Ori Nir
DeLee expresses her pride in how the President presented our nation, and in the crucial settlement-related work of Peace Now
Read the text of the President's historic speech, and SHARE YOUR COMMENTS ON THE PEACE NOW BLOG
APN President & CEO Debra DeLee stated that President Obama "is offering an historic opportunity for Israel and its neighbors..."
Miller is a former U.S. Middle East negotiator under Republican and Democratic administrations, and currently a scholar at the Wilson Center in Washington, working on a book about presidential greatness.

Ackerman and Frank Support Obama on Settlements

With the pro-settler spin machine running at full power trying to make the case that support in Congress for Obama's Middle East policies is beginning to crumble, members of Congress are pushing back.

On the heels of this morning's historic Obama speech in Cairo,  Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY) -- the Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs' Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia -- issued a statement this afternoon entitled "ACKERMAN URGES FREEZE ON SETTLEMENT CONSTRUCTION, NOT GROWING FAMILIES." (the text is not yet available online, so the document is copied at the end of this post).

Reactions to Obama's Cairo speech

Reacting to President Obama's speech in Cairo today Debra DeLee said that the president "made a compelling connection between political interests and moral values, between pragmatism and tolerance. It is in this mindset that the parties to the conflict should act, using the services of a resolute, popular American president, to push for peace. Israelis, Palestinians and Arab leaders know what they ought to do to generate progress toward peace. It's time for them to transcend the zero-sum mentality that is so prevalent in the region and work toward peace."

President Obama's speech in Cairo

Read the text of the President's historic speech.

President Obama's Cairo Speech

Below are excerpts of the speech delivered today in Cairo by President Barack Obama thatare of particular relevance to the issue of peace for Israel. The full text is available here.

The Obama administration is caught in a series of binds it has not yet acknowledged: its efforts will ultimately founder unless it finds a formula that deals with Hamas
Hagit Ofran of Peace Now: "Every brick is undermining the moderate Palestinians who are still trying to persuade their people that the way out is talking to Israel."
Americans for Peace Now spokesman Ori Nir said the shift is "sweeping, if in fact the administration will stand behind its words and enforce these positions."
There should be no controversy about settlements. They constitute a burden to Israel's security...add your voice to support President Obama's efforts to bring peace to Israel.

Settler Chutzpah and the Housing Market

The JTA's Ron Kampeas has posted an excellent blog piece on the issue of natural growth - or more precisely, why there is nothing "natural" at all about "natural growth" of settlements. His commentary complements a great short piece in today's Haaretz by Akiva Eldar. Both Ron and Akiva focus on the population numbers, underscoring the inescapable fact that new babies being born to settlers cannot possibly account for the massive growth of the settler population (both in the West Bank and East Jerusalem). No, this growth reflects, above all else, Israeli government policies that have long encouraged Israelis to move into settlements, including the planning, construction, and subsidizing of housing for them in these areas. Demanding new settlement housing to accommodate this entirely unnatural population boom is nothing more or less than settler chutzpah -- chutzpa that for some reason many seem to be buying.

But both Ron and Akiva omit another important - and I think glaringly obvious - problem with the demand for settlement expansion to accommodate "natural growth."

Written by M.J. Rosenberg, Director of Policy for the Israel Policy Forum
Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, a Gaza infertility specialist, is a familiar figure to Israelis - a Palestinian who crossed the lines of enmity years ago to work in Israeli hospitals and become a frequent guest on Israeli TV and radio.

Honesty is the Best Policy

In an interview broadcast by NPR this morning, President Barack Obama spoke about his commitment to peace for Israel, about the need for a settlement freeze, and about the need for the Palestinians to continue their progress on security matters.

Nir's piece was also picked up by the New York Times' "Opinionator" blog
As President Obama prepares to head to the Middle East this week, administration officials are debating how to toughen their stance against any expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

LA Times Editorial: "Showdown on settlements"

The communities in the West Bank are an obstacle to peace. The U.S. should push a building freeze.
Israel's Peace Now said that 40 per cent of land on which authorised and unauthorised settlements have been built is privately owned Palestinian land and only up to 2.5 per cent belongs to Jews.

Ha'aretz: "Barak eyes end to tension on U.S. trip"

According to data published by Peace Now, much of this construction has taken place outside the settlement blocs and with no connection to the issue of "natural growth."
Attorney Michael Sfard, who is representing Peace Now, says that the construction was carried out without building permits and that the project is in contradiction with the existing plans for the area.
"...7,000 out of 16,000 dunams - on which 100 unauthorized West Bank outposts sit, is under private Palestinian ownership."
Peace Now...found that more than a third of new units built in established settlements in recent years are used to absorb newcomers rather than to accommodate internal growth.

June 1, 2009 - Vol. 10, Issue 36

President Obama - PA President Abbas' relationship; Settlers remaining inside Palestinian territory; Global events of significance for Israel...