Jewish settlers erect new outposts

Jewish settlers have quietly set up five new outposts in the occupied West Bank in defiance of Israel’s commitment to a US-sponsored “road map” plan.

    Jewish settlers trying to prevent
    Israeli authorities from
    dismantling Assael outpost

    The settlers parked more caravans and set up tents on hilltops near established Jewish settlements as Israeli authorities removed two more settlement outposts on Sunday.


    The Israeli occupation forces dismantled the Assael outpost near the southern west Bank city of Hebron after evacuating  its residents who had staged a protest.


    A second new outpost near the central city of Ramallah was removed by Israeli police.


    The five newly erected outposts have not been approved by the Israeli government.


    Four of them were set up near the Jewish settlements of Kohav Ha Shahar, Rehelim, Ofra and Eilon Moreh.


    “(Israeli Prime Minister Ariel) Sharon wasn’t serious when he said at the Aqaba summit that he would dismantle outposts”, said Yariv Oppenheimer of Peace Now, an Israeli group that monitors settlement activity.


    “The way it looks now, the people in charge of these areas are the settlers and no-one, not even the Israeli government, is stopping them”, he added.


    The fifth outpost near the West Bank city of Ram Allah was inhabited, according to the group.


    It was set up near the Neve Tsuf settlement where a Palestinian resistance fighter shot and wounded two Israeli settlers on Friday.


    Settlers said the dismantling of three inhabited outposts, scheduled for last Tuesday, has been delayed after they appealed the Israeli authorities’ decision in Israel’s supreme court.


    Last week, Israeli authorities began dismantling settlement outposts after Sharon pledged on 4 June at the Aqaba summit in Jordan to dismantle “unauthorised” outposts, the name given to settlements not built with Israeli approval.


    Under international law all Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip are illegal.


    Jewish settlers vowed to set up
    two for each settlement removed

    Sharon's pledge was in line with Israel’s commitments to the “road map” plan.


    The plan calls for dismantling settlement outposts established since March 2001 without Israeli government approval and for a freeze on construction inside settlements authorised by the government.


    An Israeli Defence Ministry spokeswoman said there were plans to remove “some other isolated outposts soon” but that a decision has not been made yet as to when and where.


    A spokesman for YESHA, an umbrella organisation for Jewish settlers in the Occupied Territories, vowed to challenge the Israeli decision to remove the outposts.


    “For every outpost that is dismantled, we will set up two new ones”, said the spokesman, Ezra Rosenfeld.


    Rosenfeld said the “road map” was a disaster for Israel.


    More than 200,000 Jews live in some 150 government-authorised settlements which have become a thorn in the quest for a lasting peace.


    They either claim they have a biblical right to the West Bank or are tempted by government housing subsidies.


    Jewish settlements are heavily protected by Israeli forces. Their inhabitants are armed and have so far killed a number of Palestinian civilians, including children.


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