At the Washington Times, the redoubtable Eli Lake unearths more fodder for the argument that the understanding between the Bush and Sharon administrations allowing some settlement growth never kicked in:
Eli speaks to Dov Weisglass, the top aide to then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon who negotiated the deal for the Israelis:
Under the deal, Israel was to stop confiscating Palestinian land for settlement construction, refrain from building new settlements and end tax subsidies for settlement construction and for Israelis who moved to these areas in formerly Arab-controlled territory.
Israel was to be allowed to add housing within a "construction line," but work to demarcate that "construction line" was never completed, Mr. Weissglas said.
"The agreed principle was there would be no construction beyond the construction line, then months later, we, meaning Israel and the United States, realized that it is quite difficult to resolve it, to define where is the construction line in certain instances," Mr. Weissglas said.
Yet even without the agreement "kicking in" it appears Israel abided to a degree with the "understanding;" Lake quotes Ori Nir of Americans for Peace Now and Hussein Ibish as saying that since 2003, new settlement building has slowed, although existing settlement expansion has continued apace.