Tuesday, August 17, 2004
Israel to move forward with plans to build 1,000 new settlement units in the West Bank
Here in Ha'aretz, here in the Guardian. As usual, the Israelis' official spokespeople muddy the waters and avoid the issue:
Officials in Jerusalem maintained that this was an old project, approved prior to the government's May 2003 pledge to limit construction, and one that in any case would be built within the confines of existing housing. (Ha'aretz)All this really means is that the Sharon government has always meant to further expand settlements in the West Bank, feels no pressure to stop doing so from the US, and has simply waited until it was politically convenient to announce specific moves. The timing is good for Sharon because it is a) one day before a Likud convention where he hopes to regain the support of some of the hardliners he lost with his Gaza withdrawal plan and b) in the middle of the presidential race in the US, meaning nobody of any consequence in either the Bush or Kerry camp is going to say a thing about the settlements.
Housing Ministry spokesman Kobi Bleich said that the six settlements earmarked for expansion are within "the Israeli consensus," meaning they are among those Israel plans to keep in any scenario. "All the relevant authorizations have been received," Bleich said of the construction bids. (Guardian)