Peace Now: Gov't dishonest about intentions to evacuate illegal outposts

Peace Now, the disengagement advocacy group, released a document Monday entitled "The Death of the Settlement Freeze - 4 Months since Annapolis". The press release claims that in spite of promises on the part of the Israeli government to halt settlement construction as per the Annapolis conference, 101 instances of settlement construction have taken place since December. The report claims that over 500 buildings are currently being built in the settlements, each of them including several housing units (east Jerusalem excluded). Approximately 275 of the buildings are new and 20% of the construction is taking place in settlements east of the West Bank Security Barrier. In some of the settlements mobile structures (caravans), particularly east of the Barrier, have been using the "Lego System" such that construction is faster and cheaper. The group reports that this construction is being undertaken without construction permits or approved planning. Specifically, at least 184 new caravans were brought and installed in the settlements, some 150 of them (82%) in settlements located east of the fence such including, Eli, Dolev, Psagot, Ofra, Kochav Ha'shachar, Yitzhar, etc. Regarding approved construction, the Minister of Defense has approved several plans for construction including a total of at least 946 housing units and established a new city in the Territories- Modi'in Illit - at the beginning of March. The move to classify the settlement as a city came from the Minister of the Interior. The report also summarized east Jerusalem construction since the Annapolis summit, saying that there was a leap in the number of construction plans and tenders in east Jerusalem with tenders for the construction of at least 750 housing units in East Jerusalem being issued between December 2007 and March 2008, while throughout all 2007 until the summit, only two tenders for 46 housing units were issued. Finally, the report outlined construction in "illegal outposts", detailing the construction and/or development of 58 outposts with at least 16 new permanent structures in seven of different outposts which has taken place. None of the outposts have been evacuated, prompting Peace Now to conclude that the Government's declaration on the evacuation of two outposts on March 3rd, 2008 seems to have been "misleading" and disingenuous. According to the report, one of the "outposts" was a single broken caravan, and the other was never evacuated.