Jewish settlers ignore building law

Jews are developing West Bank settlements on occupied Palestinian land, despite Israeli court rulings and hostile world opinion.

There are about 450,000 settlers living on Palestinian land

Peace Now, which monitors settlement building in the occupied territories, said on Monday existing settlements had been reinforced with new infrastructure such as paved roads, running water and electricity in the first four months of 2004.

“As of this month, despite court rulings and evacuation orders there have not been any serious removals on the ground,” it said in a report based on its latest aerial survey of West Bank settlements.

The international community regards the Israeli settlements as illegal, although Israel disputes this.

Occupied land

It is estimated there are about 450,000 Jewish settlers living on illegally occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.

An auditor’s report released last week said Israel’s Housing Ministry, run by a pro-settler coalition partner, had funnelled nearly $7 million into building “outposts” and supporting infrastructure from January 2000 to June 2003.

Ariel Sharon is the architect ofIsrael's settlement programme 
Ariel Sharon is the architect ofIsrael’s settlement programme 

Ariel Sharon is the architect of
Israel’s settlement programme 

The US, Israel’s main ally, has demanded some “outposts” should be torn down as part of a road map that promises Palestinians a state in the West Bank and Gaza.

Peace Now’s study said more than 50 permanent houses were being built, further caravans were sprouting up and roads being paved at a number of “outposts” in the West Bank.

Court ruling

It said 95 of the hilltop caravan clusters were inhabited and 61 of them built without government approval since right-wing Prime Minister Ariel Sharon took office in 2001.

The Supreme Court in March dismissed petitions by settlers protesting against plans to evacuate them, setting the stage for government to do so.

Twenty-one “outposts”, most uninhabited, have been removed during Sharon’s tenure, but he has not fulfilled his pledge to scrap them all, in part because of the powerful pro-settler nationalists in his coalition.

The Housing Ministry is headed by Effi Eitam, leader of the far-right National Religious Party, which considers the West Bank and Gaza to be part of the biblical Jewish homeland.

Source: Reuters