Israeli Settlement Expansions Continue - by Stephen Lendman
Currently, around 500,000 Jews reside illegally in over 120 West Bank and East Jerusalem settlements as well as dozens of outposts. Their numbers grow daily despite occasional pledges to curtail or slow them, the latest last November when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared a 10 month freeze, calling it a move to "help launch meaningful negotiations to reach a historic peace agreement that would finally end the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians."
Never mind Israel's history of past peace process futility because all previous efforts were more pretense than real, or as some Palestinians say - How can they negotiate in good faith without a willing partner? They've never had one and don't in Netanyahu, an extremist hard-right zealot.
The same holds for a settlement freeze, just rhetoric with no substance, especially given Israel's plan to make all Jerusalem a Jewish city, according to Netanyahu. During a May 22, 2009 Jerusalem Day ceremony (commemorating the city's 1967 reunification), he declared:
"United Jerusalem is Israel's capital. Jerusalem was always ours and will always be ours. It will never again be partitioned and divided."
For East Jerusalem Palestinians, it means removing them one settlement expansion and home demolition at a time.
So much for the peace process and freeze, evidenced by a February 26 Haaretz report saying Israel "plans to build another 600 homes in East Jerusalem" on Occupied Palestinian land.
Then on March 10, Israel's Interior Ministry approved 1,600 in Ramat Shlomo, "an ultra-Orthodox East Jerusalem neighborhood" during vice president Joe Biden's visit to restart no-peace peace talks, the same as past stillborn efforts.
A Haaretz March 11 report goes further, saying planning officials confirm that:
"Some 50,000 new housing units in Jerusalem neighborhoods beyond the Green Line are in various stages of planning and approval." Plans for 20,000 apartments "are in advanced stages of approval and implementation, while plans for the remainder have yet to be submitted to the planning committees."
According to Ir Amin, activists for a stable and equitable Jerusalem, construction this vast "will move Israel beyond the point of no return" and render conflict resolution impossible.
This highlights Netanyahu's earlier disingenuous announcement that:
"a policy of restraint regarding settlements (will) include a suspension of new permits and new construction in Judea and Samaria for a period of ten months (as well as) a promise to enable normal life to continue for three hundred thousand Israeli citizens, our brothers and sisters, who live in Judea and Samaria (what Jews call the West Bank)."
Yet unlimited East Jerusalem expansions continue where 200,000 Jews already live on expropriated Palestinian land. In addition, thousands of West Bank housing units and other construction continue or are planned as Netanyahu explained last November saying:
"When the suspension ends (or sooner), my government will revert to the policies of previous governments in relation to construction," meaning expropriating Palestinian land is policy, and no plans will change it.
He then added: