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CBS: "Israeli Military Allows West Bank Settlements To Grow"

"Eventually, even if there will be a peace treaty with the Palestinians, it will be almost impossible to implement it on the ground," says Yariv Oppenheimer, of the human rights group Peace Now.

January 29, 2009

The official purpose of former Senator George Mitchell's' trip to the Mideast is fact-finding, and a new fact is about to emerge, one that informed sources in the West Bank call "politically explosive."

A 262-page secret government report first obtained by the respected daily paper Ha'aretz shows that the military has turned a blind eye to the expansion of Israeli settlements on Palestinian-owned land, reports CBS News correspondent Allen Pizzey.

Under international law the military is responsible for policing the occupied territories and safeguarding Palestinian rights, including land ownership.

Eight years ago Senator Mitchell recommended a freeze on new construction in the settlements.

That became a key element in the Washington-backed "road map" to peace. What's actually happening is more like a road block, Pizzey reports.

Israeli settlements are expanding at record speed, taking up more and more of the land that was supposed to become the Palestinian state one day.

An Israeli human rights group that monitors the construction on a daily basis says it grew by 60 percent last year.

"Eventually, even if there will be a peace treaty with the Palestinians, it will be almost impossible to implement it on the ground," says Yariv Oppenheimer, of the human rights group Peace Now.

That's because every settlement house becomes a family home and uprooting that is as hard as making a peace deal, Pizzey reports.