illegal outpost 88.
(photo credit: )
According to a bi-annual report released Tuesday by Peace Now, the government was continuing its policy of settlement expansion in the West Bank, mainly in the communities of Beitar Ilit, Modi'in Ilit, Ma'aleh Adumim and Alfei Menashe.
The Peace Now report also accused the settlement movement of utilizing the war in Lebanon, "while the entire focus of the nation was on the fighting in the north," in order to expand construction in "ideological" settlements across the Green Line as well as in illegal outposts.
June 18 analysis: Settler leaders and the outposts
The report focused on building during the time period between April and August of 2006, and noted 31 outposts that were undergoing expansion and 12 of which were being built as permanent housing.
The organization called on the government to follow through with Defense Minister Amir Peretz's pre-election promise to evacuate all illegal outposts.
In addition, main roads connecting Jerusalem with Nokdim, and Ma'aleh Adumim with Jericho (at the point east of Kfar Adumim), were being built at an increased pace, according to the report.
Responding to the report, Infrastructure Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer (Labor) told Israel Radio that he was unaware of such settlement and outpost expansion, and that if the report was correct it would complicate Israel on the diplomatic front and damages its status as a law abiding nation.
Ben-Eliezer added that the illegal outposts should be taken down as soon as possible. "If there are those who used the distress in the north in order to enhance the distress in the territories, the matter is seven times as worse," he said.
The council of Judea, Samaria and Gaza (Yesha) claimed Tuesday morning that the report was false, and that the settlement movement would be happy to be able to truly expand, even though that option was unavailable.
Yesha spokesperson Emily Emrousi said that Peace Now was "continuing to drive a stake between the government and the settlers, and was also trying to spark a Jewish war, even at this difficult time of crises from outside."
She added that the outposts were expanded mostly to add structures for schools or to meet security needs.