Set­tle­ments still be­ing built, Peace Now tells MPs

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY BERNARD JOSEPHS

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.”

PHOTO: VICKY ALHADEFF

Hagit Ofran, di­rec­tor of Peace Now’s Set­tle­ment Watch ini­tia­tive

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