Settlements still being built, Peace Now tells MPs
ISRAEL IS not fulfilling its pledge to halt settlement-building in the run-up to the Annapolis summit, a prominent Israeli peace campaigner told MPs at Westminster on Tuesday.
Despite the undertaking by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to freeze building in the West Bank, it is still going on, Hagit Ofran, head of Peace Now’s Settlement Watch programme, said.
“Over the years we have had many declarations by many prime ministers that settlement-building would stop. We have seen many agreements which include such an obligation, but there is no evidence that it is happening,” she said.
Ms Ofran, who addressed members of British Friends of Peace Now in London on the eve of her meeting at the House of Commons, told the JC: “I am telling British MPs what I have seen and what is going on. There is no settlement freeze at all. I see continuous construction.”
The latest figures, according to Settlement Watch, showed that 88 settlements were being built and a third of the illegal outposts were being expanded.
Brought up in an Orthodox family and the granddaughter of Hebrew University philosopher and theologian Yeshayahu Leibowitz, widely known for his critical views about the occupation of the West Bank, she denied that her activities were harming Israel.
“My grandfather was very important for me. He had a strong influence on who I am. Israel is my home and I hope there will be something good from Annapolis.
“I have mixed emotions about the settlers because I can see myself as part of their idealistic communities. But my main feeling when I go to the territories is anger and sadness, because what they do is take other peoples’ land and deny the chances of peace to Israel. This is a huge distortion of Jewish values and is devastating for the Jewish religion.”
Ms Ofran, who combines her work for Peace Now with membership of the directorate of the leftwing MeretzYahad Party, told British MPs to put pressure on Israel “as much as you can” over the settlement issue. “In my view this would be a pro-Israel thing to do.”
Hagit Ofran, director of Peace Now’s Settlement Watch initiative