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Israeli regime continues building illegal settlements

More than half the illegal outposts in the West Bank accounted for in a report released Wednesday by Attorney Talia Sasson were built on land all or part of which belonged to Palestinians or the ownership of which was unclear, Sasson told reporters during a press conference at the prime minister's office in Jerusalem.

Altogether, Sasson said she had found 105 illegal outposts during her study, including 54 that were built on land which did not belong to the state.

Sasson said that all of the 15 outposts built on Palestinian-owned land should be dismantled immediately and given back to their rightful owners.

In the six months given to her to present her study, which she described as an interim report, she managed to investigate the Ministry of Construction and Housing, the Settlement Department of the World Zionist Organization, the Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria and the Defense Ministry adviser on settlement affairs. She said that each had contributed to the establishment and development of this illegal enterprise over a period of almost 13 years.

"The violation of the law in such a gross manner and from so many different directions could threaten the democratic regime and must be remedied," Sasson warned.

She said that she had not received all of the information she had requested from the Ministry of Construction and Housing, the Settlement Department of the World Zionist Organization or Civil Administration but declined to say whether it had been deliberately withheld from her.

Sasson also said that she had been unable to obtain figures showing how much money the government had invested in the illegal outposts. She said she had to wait "many months" for figures from the Housing Ministry. It finally submitted a document declaring that it had spent NIS 77 million on illegal outposts between 2000 and 2004. But Sasson said that when she compared this figure to the amount of money spent by the ministry according to its working budget, the NIS 77 million figure appeared too low.

Sasson charged that the Settlement Department of the World Zionist Organization had poured millions of shekels into the outposts even though the cabinet had not approved a single one of them. The Ministry of Housing provided infrastructure and housing for the illegal outposts and was also "indifferent" to the question of who the land upon which they were being built belonged to.

The Civil Administration was careless about the land that it allocated for the new outposts. It used outdated aerial photos to determine what plots could be assigned to the settlers and often made mistakes.

Sasson told the reporters that her examination was not aimed at individuals but at an understanding how the system worked that could build and expand so many illegal communities.

Nevertheless, she specifically pointed the finger at Ron Shachner, the adviser on settlements to Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz. She said he had given orders to move mobile homes into illegal outposts, and had written letters declaring that some of the outposts had been approved by the planning authorities even though he knew they were not.

Dror Etkes, Peace Now's expert on settlements, told The Jerusalem Post that there were three distinct periods in the development of the illegal outposts.

The first began after the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993 and lasted until 1999, when the government of Prime Minister Ehud Barak reached an agreement with the settlement movement, allowing most of them to remain on the ground.


Jerusalem Post, "Sasson charges gov. with collusion on illegal outposts", 8 March 2005.

"The Insider" mailing list article, 09 March 2005.

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Tags: Israel, illegal, settlements, building, expanding, land-grab, Israeli, government, , conspiracy theories.

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