Peace Now Seeks Building Ban in Samaria
The Peace Now organization petitioned the Supreme Court on Thursday for an order to stop construction in the Samarian Jewish communities of Chalamish and Neve- Tzuf. According to the petition, the construction is being carried out without permits and goes against plans for the area.
The leftist organization claims existing structures were built on land belonging to the state. Peace Now is seeking a restraining order that would force Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Central District army commander, Major-General Gadi Shamni to prevent the existing structures from being populated or used.
The Binyamin Jewish Residents' Association said, in response, Thursday evening, "The people of Peace Now have sold their souls to the devil." The association said that Peace Now had turned into a miserable band whose only activity is an intense one to expel Jews from their horns and destroy Jewish communities.
The Defense Ministry has yet to submit its response to the petition.
Ahead of Binyamin Netanyahu's first trip to the United States during his current term as prime minister, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden told the annual convention of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) on Tuesday, "You are not going to like my saying this - but [do] not build more settlements, dismantle existing outposts. . . . This is a show-me deal. Not based on faith. Show me."
Also on Tuesday, Chairman John Kerry of the Foreign Relations Committee told the gathering, "Nothing will do more to show Israel's commitment to making peace than freezing new settlements activity. Settlements make it more difficult for Israel to protect its own citizens. New settlements . . . don't just fragment a future Palestinian state. They also fragment what the Israeli defense forces must defend, they undercut [moderate Palestinian president Mahmoud] Abbas, and strengthen Hamas by convincing the Palestinians that there is no reward for moderation."
The audience applauded Kerry when he suggested that Israel should not be expected to pull out of Judea and Samaria any time soon. He noted, "Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon, only to face Hizbullah; Israel withdrew from Gaza, only to face Hamas rockets. Israel is not about to let the same thing happen in the West Bank, nor should they."
In recent months, senior U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, have issued stronger than usual warnings against Jewish settlement expansion on land that could become a Palestinian Authority state.