Peace Now: Settlement freeze is dead

Report details 101 instances of settlement construction that have taken place since Annapolis.

settlement Building248.88 (photo credit: )
settlement Building248.88
(photo credit: )
Four months since the Annapolis conference, the settlement freeze is dead, left-wing organization Peace Now claimed in a report released Monday. The report highlighted 101 instances of settlement construction that had taken place since December. It claimed that over 500 buildings were being built in the settlements, each of them including several housing units (east Jerusalem excluded). Peace Now said that approximately 275 of the buildings were new and 20 percent of the construction was being conducted in settlements east of the West Bank security barrier. According to the report, in some of the settlements, mobile structures (caravans), particularly east of the barrier, have been using the "Lego System," making construction faster and cheaper. The group reported that this construction was being undertaken without construction permits or approved planning. Specifically, it said, 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 and Yitzhar. Regarding approved construction, Peace Now said that Defense Minister Ehud Barak had authorized several construction plans, including a total of at least 946 housing units and had established a new city in the territories - Modi'in Illit - at the beginning of March. The report stated that the move to classify the settlement as a city came from the Interior Ministry. 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 being issued between December 2007 and March 2008, while throughout 2007 until the Annapolis 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 different outposts. The fact that none of these outposts had been evacuated prompted Peace Now to conclude that the government's declaration on the evacuation of two outposts on March 3, 2008 seemed 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. Meanwhile, Defense Minister Ehud Barak's settlement adviser Eitan Broshi stated that construction in Judea and Samaria had not "totally dried up" and that it could not be stopped by "waving an ax." Speaking to Israel Radio, Broshi said that the Defense Ministry had spoken with settler leaders in recent months on the evacuation of illegal outposts after years in which nothing was done on the matter. Broshi asserted that no outposts had been established lately. In addition, Defense Ministry sources told the radio station that in the next few days, five illegal West Bank outposts would be evacuated in accordance with an agreement with settler leaders. The sources also said that settlers had been offered replacement sites instead of the Migron outpost.