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Peace Now calls for inquiry into ministers who approved outposts (HA´ARETZ NEWS) By Nadav Shragai 02/03/05)Source: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/535438.html HA'ARETZ} NEWS SERVICE HA'ARETZ} NEWS SERVICE Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
Peace Now is calling for the establishment of a commission of inquiry to investigate and, if necessary, order indictments against all those, including housing ministers and prime ministers, who lent a hand to the construction of outposts in the territories and thus broke the law.

Speaking yesterday at a news conference to mark the release of the movement´s 2004 summary on outposts and settlements, Peace Now secretary-general Yariv Oppenheimer and the head of Peace Now´s Settlements Watch team, Dror Etkes, said the report soon to be published by attorney Talia Sasson on the manner in which the outposts were established would verify the charges made by the movement in recent years.

According to the movement, last year saw the evacuation of just two outposts in the territories, Ginot Aryeh and the Tal Binyamin synagogue-yeshiva; another outpost, Mitzpeh Yitzhar, was evacuated and then re-established; and three new outposts - South Migron, Northeast Ofra and Southeast Ofra - were set up.

Peace Now also reports the significant expansion of another 12 existing outposts, with an additional 15 outposts said to be featuring fixed residences. According to the movement´s figures, there are currently 99 settlement outposts in the West Bank.

Etkes said that all of the outposts grew last year to some extent. He also noted that all three of the new outposts established in 2004 were set up in areas commandeered by the Binyamin Regional Council.

As for the settlements themselves, Peace Now says that the constructed areas of these communities grew last year by some 1,800 dunam. There are currently 3,500 housing units under construction throughout the West Bank, the movement reports.

In 2004, Peace Now adds, tenders were published for the construction of 962 housing units, of which some two-thirds were in Betar Ilit and Ariel. The movement also notes that construction in 21 settlements is taking place outside the defined urban boundaries of the settlements.

Large-scale construction is under way at more than 40 different settlements, with the biggest operations taking place in Ma´aleh Adumim, Betar Ilit, Modi´in Ilit, Alfei Menasheh, Adam and Har Gilo, Peace Now reports. According to the government´s permanent-settlement map, the "high-demand" areas are slated to remain under Israeli rule.

Two new roads - Jerusalem-Nokdim and Nili-Ofarim - are being paved in the West Bank, and another two - the Trans-Samaria road and the Jerusalem-Jericho road - are being significantly expanded.

Responding to the Peace Now report, settler leaders said that the very same people who supported arming the Palestinian Authority, which encouraged the murder of Jews on both sides of the Green Line, are now restricting the steps of the victims, who wish to grow and answer the haters of Israel with growth and new life.

The settler leaders added that the report on the outposts soon to be published by Sasson would prove their claims that the authorities were party to the establishment of the outposts, and that all the steps to do so had been coordinated and approved. (© Copyright 2005 Haaretz. 02/03/05)

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