Set­tle­ments grow­ing, newre­port­warns

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY JEFF BARAK JERUSALEM

IS­RAELI SET­TLE­MENTS and il­le­gal out­posts in the West Bank are con­tin­u­ing to ex­pand, de­spite Is­rael’s roadmap com­mit­ment to evac­u­ate th­ese out­posts, ac­cord­ing to a Peace Now re­port pub­lished on Wed­nes­day.

The re­port says there has been new con­struc­tion, or trail­ers added, to 34 out­posts dur­ing May to Oc­to­ber this year. In all, con­struc­tion work took place in 88 set­tle­ments dur­ing the past six months.

Quot­ing the Cen­tral Bureau of Sta­tis­tics, the Peace Now re­port says that Jewish res­i­dents of the West Bank to­talled 267,500 peo­ple at the end of June, an an­nual growth rate of 5.8 per cent as com­pared to an an­nual growth rate of 1.8 per cent inside Is­rael’s pre1967 borders.

On Sun­day evening, in a land­mark speech in front of the Sa­ban Fo­rum in Jerusalem, Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ehud Olmert noted that while the Pales­tini­ans had failed to ful­fil their com­mit­ments to fight ter­ror as part of the road-map’s first phase, Is­rael too had failed to im­ple­ment all its com­mit­ments.

“We will not con­cede to the Pales­tini­ans on any of the obli­ga­tions out­lined in the road-map, and we will not avoid ful­fill­ing our own obli­ga­tions to the let­ter. Some of them are dif­fi­cult, some will cre­ate con­sid­er­able po­lit­i­cal hard­ships — and I have no in­ten­tion, no mat­ter how dif­fi­cult it is, of at­tempt­ing to es­cape the obli­ga­tions im­posed on the State of Is­rael,” said Mr Olmert.

This is the first time an Is­raeli leader has stated pub­licly that Is­rael will start to im­ple­ment all the de­mands listed in the road-map. Lis­ten­ing to Mr Olmert’s speech were visit­ing US Sec­re­tary of State Con­doleezza Rice and Tony Blair, the Quar­tet’s en­voy to the Mid­dle East.

As part of the run-up to the An­nap- olis sum­mit later this month, Is­raeli of­fi­cials are also dis­cussing a sig­nif­i­cant Pales­tinian pris­oner re­lease as a ges­ture to Pales­tinian Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ab­bas.

“We un­der­stand that this is im­por­tant to the Pales­tini­ans,” a se­nior gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial told the JC.

In his speech to the Sa­ban Fo­rum, Mr Olmert also promised “vig­or­ous, on­go­ing and con­tin­u­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions” with the Pales­tini­ans af­ter An­napo­lis.


Work­ing in the West Bank: con­struc­tion con­tin­ues ahead of An­napo­lis

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