New Decree: No Expansion Allowed in Judea and Samaria

The "settlement blocs" Prime Minister Sharon promised to keep safe are in danger. Not only is his expulsion plan for Gaza and northern Shomron picking up steam, it now threatens the rest of Judea and Samaria as well.

, | updated: 10:11

The "settlement blocs" Prime Minister Sharon promised to keep safe are clearly in danger. Not only is his disengagement/expulsion plan for Gaza and northern Shomron picking up steam, it now appears headed for the rest of Judea and Samaria as well.

The Defense Ministry has completed a large-scale project to mark the existing built-up borders of all the Jewish communities and towns in Judea and Samaria - and no further construction will be allowed beyond them. Yediot Acharonot reports today that aerial photos will be sent to the United States, which will monitor every building aberration. Though the towns will be allowed to appeal the decision, every building beyond the marked borders could be subject to immediate demolition.

The above program is in accordance with the commitment Prime Minister Sharon gave U.S. President George Bush three months ago.

This past April 12, Sharon appeared at a post-Passover celebration, and presented his vision of the future of Judea and Samaria: five blocs of Jewish presence. These were to be Ariel and environs, Gush Etzion, Kiryat Arba/Hevron, Givat Ze'ev, and Maaleh Adumim. Contrary to public perception, however, Bush never agreed with Sharon's idea of guaranteed settlement blocs in Yesha.

On April 14, Sharon triumphantly presented a letter from President Bush - which said nothing of the sort. Bush merely stated, "In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations 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" - far from an endorsement of the settlement-bloc conception.

Yesha Council head Bentzy Lieberman understood the dangers. On April 18, he said that Israel was supposed to be submitting to the Americans up-to-date aerial maps specifying the precise construction boundaries of each and every Jewish community in Judea and Samaria. "What this means is that not only are we giving up Gaza," Lieberman warned, "but the entire future of the remainder of the settlements is in doubt. As usual, the Prime Minister is hiding certain parts of the agreement, and is in fact deceiving us - and the ministers are ignoring this. Contrary to the impression that he has safeguarded the future of the settlement blocs, they are actually in grave danger."

Sharon continued to deceive. Just a few days later, Sharon told the Knesset, "Whoever wants to maintain large settlement blocs under our control forever; whoever wants to guarantee that for as long as the Palestinians don't act against terrorism, diplomatic pressures will not be exerted upon us... Whoever wants Israel to initiate and not be dragged; to lead and not be led - whoever wants all this, must support the disengagement plan."

On Apr 28, correspondent Haggai Huberman wrote of the danger, and warned that even within the settlement blocs that Sharon said he hopes to keep, construction will be all but curtailed: "The only place that construction will be possible in Yesha towns under the Sharon government will be on the lawns between the existing houses or on their roofs." This was backed up by two official letters from Sharon's top aide Dov Weisglass, one from June 2003 and one from April 2004. In the first, Weisglass wrote, "These are the understandings reached between Israel and the U.S. regarding the Jewish settlements in Judea, Samaria and Gaza: ... No new towns will be built, and construction will be frozen in the existing towns, except for building within the existing building lines - as opposed to the municipal border..."

In his more recent letter, Weisglass wrote to U.S. National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice, "On behalf of the Prime Minister of the State of Israel, Mr. Ariel Sharon, I wish to reconfirm the following understanding, which had been reached between us: 1. Restrictions on settlement growth: within the agreed principles of settlement activities, an effort will be made in the next few days to have a better definition of the construction line of settlements in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank]. An Israeli team, in conjunction with Ambassador Kurtzer, will review aerial photos of settlements and will jointly define the construction line of each of the settlements."

Yoram Ettinger, former Israeli liaison to the U.S. Congress, recently wrote, "President Bush has limited his support [for the disengagement plan] to very friendly declarations, which are ambiguous, non-binding, and do not repudiate the 'claim of return,' nor do they support Israel's sovereignty beyond the Green Line."

MK Uri Ariel (National Union) told Arutz-7 today, "Though there are some communities that still have land on which to build, such as Kfar Adumim and Beit El, this is clearly a dangerous precedent, and shows that Sharon is working against his own promises and is deceiving the public. This must be brought to the public consciousness, and everything must be done to topple this government." He said that he is making initial plans with his party colleague MK Tzvi Hendel to submit a no-confidence motion in the government during the Knesset recess, which began today.




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