Settlements growing, newreportwarns
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