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Israel Violates Roadmap Again Allowing Settlements

Israel Violates Roadmap Again, Authorizes “Rogue” Settlements

In yet another violation of the “roadmap” plan, Israel said it will provide services to eight “unauthorized” West Bank settlements, which it had previously pledged to dismantle as stipulated in the US-backed peace blueprint.

The Israeli government’s defiant decision comes at a time when its prime minister Ariel Sharon reiterated his country’s determination to go ahead with the unilateral separation wall it is building on Palestinian land, dismissing all American and international pressure.

“The security fence is not a political border,” Sharon said as he addressed a group of European parliamentarians in Jerusalem. “The fence is an additional means of preventing terror. We will continue building it,” he further stressed.

Israel refers to the series of 10-feet-high concrete slabs topped with barbed wire as a “security fence” aimed at halting bombings. Palestinians call it an Apartheid wall, since, upon completion, it will effectively mean the annexation of more than half of the West Bank and will result in several severed, caged-in Bantustans.

Whatever its name, its consequences are clear: Israel will encroach upon thousands of the West Bank’s most fertile land, Palestinians will be cut off from Palestinian territory and will not be allowed in Israel, thus leaving them in limbo and all hope for a contiguous future Palestinian state will be destroyed.

The “roadmap”, which was put forward by the “Quartet” of Middle east peace mediators—namely the US, EU, UN and Russia—specifically demands Israel to stop all settlement-activity on land Israel occupied in 1967: the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.

The Israeli anti-settlement group, Peace Now, says this move proves the Israeli premier lied to the Americans earlier this year when he promised to remove dozens of small, isolated outposts under the peace plan.

“Sharon promised to take down the outposts and has lied to the Israeli public and to the Palestinian partners,” Yariv Oppenheimer, director of Peace Now, told BBC.

In June’s peace Summit in Jordan’s port of Aqaba, the Israeli premier promised to remove settlements, which his government had not “authorized”, in spite of the fact that all settlements built on Palestinian land are considered illegal under international law and should be taken down.

Yet in spite of numerous US and international rebuke, Israel’s “defense” ministry yesterday said it would provide services, including lighting and kindergartens, to eight wildcat settlement outposts, thereby authorizing them and giving them official status.

Only last week, Israel announced plans to build another wall east of the West Bank that would mean an annexation of the Jordan River Valley. This would “complement” the wall Israel is building east of the Green Line—the only internationally recognized border between the West Bank and Israel—which would effectively mean sandwiching Palestinians in as little territory as possible.

That was in spite of US pressure for the wall to be built on the Green Line.

Condoleezza Rice, President Bush’s National Security Adviser, said the wall seemed to be an attempt to create a new de facto border.

Jewish settlements in the occupied territory are seen as one of the main hurdles to reaching peace in the region.

Hundreds of these colonies dot large portions of the remaining 22% of British-mandate Palestine, where the Palestinians want to create a future state, as stipulated by the “roadmap”.

Since the Aqaba summit, only seven of 104 these wildcat outposts were dismantled. And since then, five new outposts were put up, according to the Israeli group, Peace Now.

This decision comes at a time when the Israeli government has issued tenders for hundreds of new houses in existing illegal settlements, also in breach of the “roadmap”.

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