Paper: Israel Report Shows Illegal Funds (AP) By RAMIT PLUSHNICK-MASTI JERUSALEM, ISRAEL 01/30/05 5:00 PM)
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JERUSALEM - A government-sponsored report shows Israeli settlers at
more than 120 unauthorized hilltop outposts in the West Bank have
received illegal state funding and services for 10 years, an Israeli
newspaper said Sunday.
Asaf Shariv, an aide to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, refused to
discuss the newspaper´s claims, saying only that the outpost report
would be released in the coming weeks.
Under terms of the internationally backed "road map" peace plan,
Israel must remove dozens of unauthorized West Bank outposts that
began springing up in 1993 to protest the interim Israeli-Palestinian
peace deal signed that year. So far only a few have been removed in
operations that have often sparked clashes between settlers and
Palestinians contend all the Israeli settlements, and not just the
outposts, are illegal encroachments on land they claim for a state.
The Yediot Ahronot newspaper quoted officials as saying the report,
commissioned by Sharon in July, found that unauthorized outposts
received government money and services even though they were never
Almost all of Israel´s ministries were involved in assisting the
outposts, despite the fact that a succession of attorneys general
demanded a halt to the funding, Yediot said.
In May, Israel´s State Comptroller criticized the Housing Ministry
for funneling nearly $6.5 million to the West Bank for illegal
settlement construction in the previous three years - more than half
of it to outposts that Israel agreed to remove under the road map.
The head of the Settlers Council, Bentsi Lieberman, rejected the
report´s premise that the outposts were unauthorized. "All the
communities were established with the approval and knowledge of the
civil administration and the (military) central command," he said.
The newspaper report was published just hours before more than
100,000 Jewish settlers and their backers demonstrated in Jerusalem
against Sharon´s plan to evacuate all 21 Gaza settlements and four
small West Bank settlements this summer.
Akiva Eldar, a political columnist for the newspaper Haaretz, said
the illegalities and back-channel funding were known. But, he said,
the report might make the United States realize Israel´s government
won´t remove the outposts without significant pressure.
"We acted like this was a jungle," said Eldar, author of a recent
history on the outposts. "Had this happened inside the state of
Israel, they would have gone to jail. There (in the West Bank) they
got medals." (Copyright 2005 Associated Press. 01/30/05)
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