Peace Now: Settlements continue to expand

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Jewish West Bank settlements continued to expand in 2008 and no "real" outposts were evacuated, according to a new Peace Now report.

Some 1,518 new structures were built in the settlements, including 261 in outposts, according to the report. The number represents a 60 percent rise over the 800 new structures built in 2007.

Of the news structures, which include homes and caravans, 927, or 61 percent, were built west of the security fence and 591, or 39 percent, were built east of the security fence. One-quarter of the structures east of the fence were built in outposts.

The 261 structures built in the outposts represent a more than doubling of the 98 built in 2007, and include five new structures in the Migron outpost, which the Israeli government announced it would relocate to a nearby settlement.

The report also charged that "During the war in Gaza, the settlers took advantage of the fact that all of the public attention was on the south to expand construction in the outposts and settlements. At this point it is difficult to assess the amount of construction done during the weeks of the war, but it can be stated with certainty that a number of new roads were opened, with the goal of extending control in the areas near the settlements."

The report was released Wednesday, just hours before U.S. Mideast envoy George Mitchell was scheduled to arrive in Israel. 
 

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