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Peace Now Releases New Settlement Report
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – February 21, 2007
CONTACT: Ori Nir – (202) 728-1893
APN to Bush: Urge Israel to Halt Settlement Construction
Washington, D.C – Underscoring the findings of the annual report on settlements and outposts in the West Bank published today by the Israel’s Peace Now movement, Americans for Peace Now called on the Bush administration to urge the Israeli government to fulfill its commitments to halt settlement activity and to remove illegal settlement-outposts.
Peace Now’s report on Israeli settlement activity in 2006 shows that despite repeated commitments that successive Israeli governments made to the U.S. to stop the expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and to remove the illegal outposts, construction in West Bank settlements continued in the past year. Furthermore, not one of more than 100 inhabited illegal outposts was removed.
“As a Jewish, Zionist organization that strives to bolster Israel’s security through peace, we have long believed that continued settlement activity undercuts efforts to achieve peace and security,” said Debra DeLee, APN’s president and CEO. “Regrettably, the Israeli government has not made good on its commitments to address settlement construction and outposts, and the Bush administration doesn’t seem to recognize the importance of this issue.”
The settlement enterprise, DeLee explained, “jeopardizes efforts to bring about a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, unnecessarily burdens the Israeli Defense Forces and Israel’s government budget, and weakens support for moderate leaders and for America’s regional allies.”
The report, which sums up Jewish settlement activity in the occupied territories during 2006, this year for the first time includes data on the population of illegal outposts in the West Bank. These are proto-settlements, which were constructed in recent years without Israeli government approval. Typically, they start off as a handful of mobile homes, but often – and last year more than ever before – the prefabs are replaced by permanent construction. According to the report, prepared by Peace Now’s Settlement Watch Team, some 2,000 people live in 102 outposts throughout the West Bank. Israel’s government has repeatedly committed – to the U.S. government, to the international community and to Israeli courts – to dismantle illegal outposts. However, not even one populated outpost was removed in 2006.
The only significant action against outposts in 2006 followed an Israeli High Court decision on a petition filed by Peace Now. In this instance, Israel’s legal authorities ordered the government to stop the construction of nine buildings on privately owned Palestinian land at the outpost of Amona. Following the Court’s action, the Israeli government destroyed the nine buildings.
The report also shows that in this past year – the first year of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s Kadima-Labor government – construction in settlements continued at a similar pace to that of 2005. In 2006, tenders were issued for the construction of 952 housing units in settlements, compared with 1,184 in 2005. Some 1,272 construction projects were launched in the first nine months of 2006 (an annual rate of 1,700), compared with a total of 1,727 launches of construction projects in 2005.
An English language summary of the report is available HERE