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Democracy Subverted: Peace Now Releases New Report on Illegal Outposts & Other Settlement Growth in the Occupied Territories

June 6, 2005 CONTACT: Lewis Roth - (202) 728-1893 Washington, D.C.-The Israeli Peace Now movement has released its latest Settlements Watch report on the growth of illegal settlement outposts, veteran West Bank settlements, and settlements in the Gaza Strip, based on research conducted in the first quarter of 2005. The Peace Now study is being released just prior to the June 11th deadline set by the Israeli cabinet for a ministerial committee to deliver a detailed ...
Permanent Housing at Palgei Mayim Illegal Outpost

June 6, 2005
CONTACT: Lewis Roth - (202) 728-1893

Washington, D.C.-The Israeli Peace Now movement has released its latest Settlements Watch report on the growth of illegal settlement outposts, veteran West Bank settlements, and settlements in the Gaza Strip, based on research conducted in the first quarter of 2005. The Peace Now study is being released just prior to the June 11th deadline set by the Israeli cabinet for a ministerial committee to deliver a detailed proposal for action on the recommendations of the government report on outposts written by attorney Talia Sasson. Americans for Peace Now is a Jewish, Zionist organization that works to enhance Israel's security through peace and to support the Israeli Peace Now movement.

ILLEGAL SETTLEMENT OUTPOSTS

According to Dror Etkes, head of the Settlements Watch project, "Nearly three months after the Sasson report was released, we can conclude that the outposts have continued to expand. Almost every outpost is in the process of expansion and construction. These activities go on, day after day, without any interference by the relevant authorities regarding the breaking of the law-especially by the Civil Authority. Without them turning a blind eye to these activities, it would be impossible for the outposts to continue construction on such a level, sometimes tens of houses at one time."

There are now 101 outposts standing that were established after 1996. Around 50 of these outposts were built after March 2001 and should be dismantled under the terms of the Road Map.

Settlements Watch found that in the first quarter of 2005, one new outpost was established (Bnei Adam), while another outpost was reestablished (Mitzpe Yitzhar) and no outposts were removed. At the same time, Settlements Watch found permanent construction taking place in 17 illegal outposts: Amona; Shalhevet Farm; Palgei Mayim; Hayovel; Nof Harim; Bruchin; Givat Harel; Ahiya; Tko-'a D; Itamar 777; Itamar 782; Yair Farm; Derech Ha'avot; Adei Ad; Haresha; Migron; and Neve Erez. It should be noted that construction at Amona, near Ofra, is continuing despite the Minister of Defense ordering nine of the buildings to be destroyed, which has yet to take place. According to a recent statement from the Civil Authority to Peace Now, all construction taking place in the outposts is illegal.

In remarks delivered over the weekend, Talia Sasson expressed frustration with the lack of action by the Israeli government to enforce the law with regards to the outposts. According to Ha'aretz, she said, "The goal of the report was to end the illegal construction. This is not a matter of political outlook; we are talking about the state violating its own laws, and when a state's own authorities break the law, this is a severe blow to the rule of law. When such things happen, the democratic system is liable to be undermined."

Echoing her comments, Interior Minister Ophir Pines-Paz told the newspaper, "The current reality is a result of inaction by the government, which is blocking the implementation of the Sasson report's recommendations, and the evacuation of six outposts immediately."

EXPANSION OF VETERAN WEST BANK SETTLEMENTS

Settlements Watch found that veteran West Bank settlements continue to expand. According to Dror Etkes, "Construction in the West Bank continues. Mainly it is taking place within the large settlements surrounding Jerusalem, the Kiryat Sefer bloc, and also in Ariel, Kedumim, Karnei Shomrom, and Alfei Menashe. Most of the construction is planned in coordination with the government's published plans for the security fence, so that the buildings stay within Israeli hands. This is a blatant attempt by the Israeli government to try to force a new boundary on the Palestinians in the West Bank. This boundary will annex over 10% of the West Bank to Israel. At the same time, there is construction on a smaller scale in the settlements that will remain outside the current fence route, as well as construction of additional bypass roads."

Settlements Watch reported that in the first quarter of 2005, thousands of apartments were being built throughout the West Bank. Most of the large-scale construction (consisting of hundreds of apartments) is taking place in six large settlements: Maaleh Adumim; Beitar Illit; Modiin Illit; Alfei Menashe; Adam; and Har Gilo. Semi-large construction sites, comprised of tens of apartments, were found at 13 locations: Kochav Yaakov; Neve Daniel; Efrat; Ariel; Har Adar; Givat Zeev; Nofei Pat; Carmel; Alfei Menashe; Kedumim; Elazar; Revava; and Ornait. Small construction sites could be found at 13 settlements: Kiryat Netafim; Halamish; Talmon; Tene; Adorah; Eli; Pedu'el; Antot; Enav; Tko'a; Shavei Shomron; Shilo; and Yitzhar.

Further, 123 tenders for new settlement housing units were issued in the first quarter of 2005 for three different settlements: Givat Zeev (63 units); Ariel (ten units); and Elkana (50 units).

Construction of two settler bypass roads (the Nili-Ofarim Road and the Jerusalem-Nokdim Road) continued at full speed. It is important to note that, in both cases, these roads are outside the planned route of the security fence. The Nili-Ofarim road is intended to mainly serve settlers traveling from the Modiin bloc to the north. This road is almost completed, and it should be opened in the near future. Work on the Jerusalem-Nokdim Road is expected to continue for several more months before it is open to the public. Work on two additional bypass roads is also continuing apace. Road No. 1 (Jerusalem-Jericho) is being expanded into four lanes, as is Road No. 5 (Samaria).

In the first quarter of 2005, construction continued in order to quickly expand as much as possible the settlements located in the area of the Samaria Road (near Kalkiliya and Tulkarm), i.e., settlements like Elkana, Alfei Menashe, and Tzofin. These areas are west of the security fence and east of the Green Line. Despite the government's declarations that the fence will not become the new border for Israel, facts on the ground are proving otherwise.

While the government's plan to build in the area of E-1, between Maaleh Adumim and Jerusalem, has received much media attention, the construction that is currently taking place in Maaleh Adumim is generally east of the settlement, as a way to take over entire areas north, east, and south of where the security fence is intended to go. The fence route is planned to go east of Maaleh Adumim and to include five additional settlements. The idea behind E-1 is different, because it is intended to create a complete stretch of territory that will reach within 15 kms of East Jerusalem, all inside the route of the security fence. In this manner, the E-1 will effectively stop any way of implementing a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

SETTLEMENTS IN GAZA

Despite the fact that Israel is slated to evacuate all the settlements in the Gaza Strip, construction continued in Gaza during the first quarter of 2005.

Dror Etkes said, "In the run-up to disengagement, construction on private housing and public buildings is continuing in a number of Gaza settlements. This is an extension of the development work on structures and agriculture activities that we saw in Gaza in the previous half year."

In the first quarter of 2005, construction continued on six buildings in Netzarim, two buildings in Kfar Darom, a number of buildings in Neve Dekalim, new greenhouses in Gadid, and one building in Nisanit, while 14 new trailers were put in place in Dugit.


For further report details including photos, click HERE