Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Israel authorises three West Bank settlement outposts in blow to future peace hopes

Israel has decided to make legal under Israeli law three settlement outposts in the West Bank, the prime minister's office has said in a statement.

It said that a ministerial committee had decided to "formalise the status" of Bruchin and Rechelim, in the north, and Sansana, near Hebron in the south.

The Palestinian Authority strongly condemned the decision.

"Every single settlement built on Palestinian land is illegal", Chief Negotiator, Saeb Erekat, told the BBC.

The Israeli government had told the Supreme Court that it would regulate the status of the three outposts, which have a total of about 830 residents.

On Sunday, Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, formed a new committee, made up of four ministers, to look into the sites.

The statement said the "three communities... were established in the 1990s following the decisions of past governments".

Speaking to the BBC on Tuesday, an Israeli official disputed the use of the word "outposts" to describe Bruchin, Rechelim and Sansana. He said a process was under way to formalise the changes in their legal status.

"The decision does not make any changes on the ground. It does not mean any expansion of existing settlements or establishment of new ones," he added.

Israel considers settlement outposts built without government approval to be illegal or unauthorised.

Israeli PM, Benjamin Netanyahu shakes hands with Palestinian Chief Negotiator, Saeb Erekat and meets other Palestinian officials at his Jerusalem residence The Israeli Prime Minister met Palestinian officials last week

About 500,000 Jews live in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in what the Israeli government considers legal settlements.

The international community considers all settlements in the occupied West Bank to be illegal under international law. more

Reports claim Israel is planning to build wall along border with Lebanon

Israeli TV, Channel 10, reported Monday that Israel will start the construction of a separation Wall along part of the border with Lebanon, north of the country. The construction will commence next week, and the Wall will be built around the border town of Al-Motella.

The Wall will be more than 2 kilometers (1.24 Miles) long and 10 meters (32.8 Feet) high. Israel claims that the wall also aims at preventing armed clashes between Israeli soldiers and Lebanese soldiers as their posts and towers are often a few meters away from each other.

Channel 10 reported that Israel had officially informed the Lebanese government of its intentions, and that the construction will be conducted through the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). more