Sharon orders removal of three settlements

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz have ordered three settlement outposts in the West Bank to be removed, Israeli radio said on Sunday.

    Population of Jewish settlements in Palestinian territories has grown by 16% since 2001

    All the three outposts, none of which was officially authorised by the Israeli government, are inhabited, the radio said without identifying


    In total, Sharon and Mofaz have signed orders for the removal of nine such outposts, but until now, none of them has been fulfilled.

    Deputy defence minister Zeev Boim recently put the total number of wildcat outposts in the West Bank at 28.

    Many of them are little more than a single caravan perched on a hilltop.

    Under the first phase of the US-backed Mideast peace road map, Israel is obliged to freeze all Jewish settlement activity in the Palestinian


    It is also required to dismantle the unauthorised outposts set up since Sharon came to power in March 2001.

    Late last month, Israel's interior ministry published statistics showing the population of Jewish settlements in Palestinian territories has

    grown by 16% since Sharon came to power, bringing the overall number of settlers to 236,000.

    The international community views all Jewish settlements in the occupied territories, whether government-approved or not, as illegal.



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