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APN Attacks Plan for 6,000+ New Settlement Houses, Authorization for 120 Illegal Outposts

Americans for Peace Now (APN) today denounced an Israeli government plan to substantially boost settlement construction in the West Bank

CONTACT: Lewis Roth (202) 728-1893

Washington, D.C. - Americans for Peace Now (APN) today denounced an Israeli government plan to substantially boost settlement construction in the West Bank, while providing retroactive approval for 120 illegal settlement outposts. According to a report in Yedioth Ahronoth, the Israel Lands Administration (ILA) plan for 2005 includes construction of 6,391 new settlement housing units in the West Bank: 2,100 for Maale Adumim; 1,500 for Modiin Elite; 500 for Beitar Elite; 35 for Har Gilo; 132 for Givat Zeev; 200 for Geva Binyamin; 240 for Etz Ephraim; 90 for Elkana; 24 for Alon Shvut; 70 for Har Adar; 1,500 for Zofim; and 1,500 on land on which the Jahalin Bedouin tribe lives near Maale Adumim. The plan shows that marketing of the houses "has been approved by the director of the Civil Administration and the defense minister, except for the settlement of Efrat."

Further, task Number 12 in the ILA plan for 2005 deals with "arranging the status of the illegal outposts." The ILA writes, "The goal-there are 120 outposts for which planning and contractual arrangements must be made." Arranging the status of the outposts is contingent upon the approval of the defense minister and the director of the Civil Administration.

The Road Map to Middle East peace obligates Israel to immediately remove settlement outposts constructed since March 2001 and freeze all settlement activity, including natural growth. President George W. Bush recently said that "Israel must freeze settlement activity."

"Americans for Peace Now recognizes the historic importance of Israel's decision to evacuate settlements from Gaza and the northern West Bank and supports this initiative," said Debra DeLee, President and CEO of Americans for Peace Now, a Jewish, Zionist organization that works to enhance Israel's security through peace and to support the Israeli Peace Now movement. "However, the settlement expansion plan that was revealed in the Israeli press today negates many of the positive benefits of the upcoming evacuation. In effect, the Israeli government is planning to exchange around 1,700 settlement housing units that will be evacuated with over 6,000 settlement housing units that will be built. Even worse, it is planning to swap 25 settlements that are being dismantled with the creation of 120 fully authorized settlements in the West Bank through a process of retroactive approval. It is imperative for President Bush to hold the line on settlement expansion in the West Bank while supporting evacuation elsewhere in the occupied territories.

Otherwise, his vision of a viable Palestinian state living next to a secure Israel will never be realized."