More Israeli Settlements in the West Bank

August 20, 2004

This month, Israel announced that it would build 1,800 more settlements throughout the occupied West Bank territories.

Construction is well underway, for example, at Geva Binyamin, a settlement with 2,000 residents about six miles north of Jerusalem, where crews are working on dozens of duplexes. A few miles south of Jerusalem, some 100 homes are being built at the Har Gilo settlement. At nearby Efrat, construction crews are building at least six multi-story residential buildings.

Although the United Nations and many European countries have condemned the new settlement plans as clear violations of international law, officials from the Bush administration announced on August 21 that the U.S. would be "flexible" on the issue. According to White House officials, the Bush administration will now tacitly support building new homes within the boundaries of existing settlements.

Last April, President Bush also officially announced the U.S. government's support for Israel's plan to permanently annex large sections of the West Bank and thus effectively prevent the establishment of any viable, independent Palestinian state. In a White House statement and a letter to Ariel Sharon on April 14, Bush said: "In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli population centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949."

Currently, 350,000 Israelis live in more than 150 settlements in the West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza.

Israel began establishing settlements in the West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza immediately after its occupation of these territories in the 1967 war. Settlements are part of a deliberate strategy by the Israeli government to colonize and annex the occupied territories, to undermine the sovereignty of Palestine and keep it under the military thumb of Israel.