'Israel in danger as a democratic state'

Talia Sasson says nothing has changed since her report was issued, W. Bank construction continues.

talia sasson 298 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
talia sasson 298
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
"Israel is in real danger as a democratic country," lawyer Talia Sasson, who in 2005 presented a report on illegal outposts to then prime minister Ariel Sharon, said Sunday. "In the past six years since I wrote the report, nothing has changed, settlements have expanded even, and more new outposts have appeared," Sasson said, speaking at a joint conference of Peace Now and members of the Geneva Initiative - a private Israeli-Palestinian peace effort. She said that Israel "is not doing what it should about the illegal outposts, and it isn't dealing with the report that was prepared according to requests of Sharon himself." Sasson added that Israel has an international obligation to evacuate the outposts, and a responsibility not to expand the settlements. She stated that since the report was presented, three committees were established to deal with its implementation. However, nothing was done. "The more settlers there are, the more complicated their evacuation will be. Why not prevent that now?" The conference, titled "The Settlement Challenge," took place in Beit Ariela in Tel Aviv. During the meeting, Peace Now representatives presented parts of a report that the group will publish Monday. The aim of the report is to examine the status of settlements and illegal outposts since the Annapolis peace conference in November 2007. According to the report, some 500 buildings are currently being built in West Bank settlements. In addition, 184 new caravans have been placed in the territories and some 16 permanent buildings have been constructed in various outposts since the Annapolis summit. In East Jerusalem, Peace Now claims, building continues at Har Homa and in Talpiot, Neveh Ya'akov and Givat Hamatos. This is in addition to construction in Givat Ze'ev and Pisgat Ze'ev.