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Palestine

Fri Feb 25 2005 More Settler Homes Planned
3/24/2005 "Israel [has] announced plans for the construction of as many as 3,500 settler units around East Jerusalem. The massive settlement expansion is aimed at creating a 'territorial and demographic Jewish continuity' between the settlement of Maali Adomim, five kilometres east of Jerusalem, and other Jewish settlements on the northeastern outskirts of the occupied city. In other words, the new settlement, dubbed by Israeli officials as reflective of 'natural growth', would nearly completely strangle, even ghettoise, Arab East Jerusalem and eliminate remaining Arab demographic gaps between the city and the West Bank. ...The implication here is very clear. It means that any prospective Palestinian political state, whether to be called a state or go by any other name, will be composed of hapless and disconnected enclaves that look more like "great prisons" or "reservations" than elements of a viable and genuine political entity. ... The PA has strongly condemned Israel's insistence on 'imposing the fait accompli' and unilaterally deciding the shape and borders of any future Palestinian entity. 'This amounts to killing the roadmap. Israel is strangling Jerusalem and making the creation of a viable Palestinian state impossible,' said PA Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei.
Read More | Poisoning the land and stealing trees | What future for Israel's Palestinian citizens? | Israel hands over Jericho | Falling through the Looking Glass in Hebron | Settler violence against Palestinians is burgeoning at an alarming rate

3/20/2005 "Palestinian officials and Israeli peace campaigners accused Ariel Sharon's government of undermining peace efforts by expanding West Bank settlements even as it hands control of Arab towns to the Palestinian security services.... Jericho was handed over last week, the first of five in the current batch designed to enhance the credibility of Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian President, and his strategy of winning a state by diplomacy. At the same time, however, the liberal daily paper Ha'aretz reported that an aerial photography survey, commissioned by the Defence Ministry, revealed extensive building since last summer in existing settlements, thus violating Israel's commitments under the international road map for peace. " Read More

3/9/2005: "Ariel Sharon, the Israeli prime minister, could face a criminal investigation after an inquiry today found government funds had secretly been used to set up illegal West Bank settlements. A report by the former state prosecutor Talia Sasson called for Israel's attorney general to consider initiating criminal proceedings after discovering various ministries and official institutions had cooperated in channelling money to help to establish unauthorised outposts over the past decade." Read More

2/25/2005: 6 ,391 homes for settlers are slated to be built this year, a sharp increase over 2004. Statistics on the website of the Israel Lands Authority (ILA), whose 2005 construction plan was cited by Yediot, showed the government agency marketed 1, 783 new housing units in the West Bank in 2004 and 1 ,225 in 2003.
Behind the photo opportunities and historic handshakes of the Sharm al-Sheikh summit, the evidence on the ground is that Israel is taking advantage of the new mood not to build peace, but to build more settlements. Without an immediate halt in settlement construction, the possibility for a territorially contiguous, free Palestinian state alongside Israel will remain a distant mirage, no matter how many times President Bush talks about it, and the present easing of tension will be no more than a short respite from more horror to come.

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