Israel plans crackdown on West Bank settlement outposts

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Friday, January 4, 2008

Israel is planning measures to curb settlement activity in the occupied territories in response to pressure from the United States.

Vice Premier Haim Ramon told Israel Radio that he expects the government to take action against the outposts during and after the visit of President Bush to Israel and the West Bank next week.

The outposts are often built on West Bank hilltops, and usually consist of a few trailers or makeshift structures. Israel is obligated to dismantle about 100 outposts under the internationally backed "Roadmap" peace plan, which forms the basis of new negotiations with the Palestinians. But most of the outposts remain in place despite past pledges by Israel to remove them.

The new pledge by Mr. Ramon appears to be a response to American pressure. On Thursday, President Bush described Jewish settlements as an "impediment" to the peace process, and said the outposts should be dismantled.

The settlers accuse the Israeli government of betrayal, saying it is caving in to the dictates of the United States. Settlement activist Nadia Matar promises fierce resistance if soldiers and police try to remove the outposts.

"We must organize to prevent [the] giving away of our homeland to the Arab enemy," she said, "and the message is very clear: We are a generation of committed Jews, who do not fear internal or external enemies of the Jewish people."


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