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News :: International
Israeli Settlers Refuse To Leave Illegal Settlements -What Will PM Sharon Do Next?
27 Jan 2004
The Jewish settler population grew by more than 5000 in the first half of 2003, Israel said on Thursday. The increase comes despite peace moves requiring Israel to halt construction in the settlements. The interior ministry said 5415 Israelis had moved to the new settlements since January, with the ultra-Orthodox West Bank settlement of Beitar Illit seeing the largest jump of more than 1000 newcomers.
Jonathan Lis, Haaretz Jan. 27 2004:

The Yesha Council of West Bank and Gaza Settlements announced Tuesday it has rejected a deal presented by Avigdor Yitzhaki, director- general of the Prime Minister's Office, to evacuate a number of isolated settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

In exchange, the settlers claim the government offered to pass legislation preventing any further evacuations until a final agreement with the Palestinians is reached.

According to the proposed deal, the West Bank settlements of Homesh, Sanur, Ganim and Kadim and the Gaza settlements of Netzarim, Kfar Darom and Morag would be evacuated in the coming period. Yitzhaki subsequently denied on Tuesday afternoon that he offered such a deal to settler leaders.

According to the Yesha Council, hundreds of settlers would be evacuated in the framework of the deal including from settlements other than the seven named, notably in the southern Mount Hebron region.

The objective of the proposed deal would be to allow Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who is set to head to Washington at the end of the month, to present U.S. President George Bush with a disengagement plan supported by the right-wing.

Settler leaders who met with Yitzhaki over the past number of days refused to respond to the proposed deal.

"We decided to publicize all the details in order to prevent the continuation of the Oslo process," Yesha Council chairman Bentzi Lieberman during a press conference on Tuesday afternoon. "This process will not save battalions, but will force the deployment of divisions in the wake of the increased terrorism."

Last week, the High Court of Justice issued a temporary injunction prohibiting the evacuation of the uninhabited Hazon David outpost near Kiryat Arba.

The injunction will be in effect until the High Court rules on a broader petition brought by settler groups to challenge the legality of the evacuations.

Hazon David, the site of one tent that functions as a synagogue, is one of nine illegal outposts that have received evacuation orders but have not yet been removed due to appeals submitted by settlers to the Israel Defense Forces and the High Court.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz signed the evacuation orders Sunday to remove three of the nine outposts.

This work is in the public domain
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