West Bank Jewish Activists Extending Drive to Establish New Settlements Before Elections

West Bank Jewish activists are extending their drive to establish as many new settlements in the territory as possible before the July 23 Knesset elections. They are doing so in many cases without government authorization, but may have tacit encouragement from the authorities, Haaretz reported today.

A new settlement called Neot Adumim was set up near Bethlehem over the weekend and another, called Abir Yaacov, near Ramallah last week. More are planned near Batir village on the western outskirts of Jerusalem, in the Hebron region and the Samaria district of the West Bank.

Although the sites chosen were in most cases approved by the authorities some time ago, settlement building was not authorized for budgetary reasons. The activists are clearly flouting government authority but government sources told Haaretz that “on the eve of elections their hands were tied and there was nothing they could do to prevent it,” the newspaper reported.

Sources at the World Zionist Organization’s settlement department insisted that the department was not involved in these settlement activities, but the new settlements seem to enjoy some government support, Haaretz said. In addition, 10 new “lookout posts” are planned for the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the next two weeks, each of them to serve as the nucleus of future settlements.

The flurry of unsanctioned settlement building seems to be motivated by the possibility of a Labor victory in the elections. The Labor Party platform calls for building settlements only in strategic security zones while avoiding heavily Arab-populated regions.

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