Ramallah, 27-12-06: The Palestinian National Initiative today condemned plans announced yesterday by the Israeli Ministry of Defence to construct a new settlement in the Jordan Valley to house settlers removed from the former settlement of Gush Katif in the Gaza Strip during the ĎDisengagementí in August 2005.
PNI General Secretary, Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi MP, pointed out that this move exposes the Israeli governmentís lack of commitment to peace, and that together with the ongoing construction of the Separation Wall, it is further evidence of a wider plan to annex swathes of Palestinian land to Israel, including East Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley.
He also stated that this is a blow to the results of last Saturdayís meeting between President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, and that it undermines the efforts of those Palestinians seeking to restart negotiations between the two sides.
Dr. Barghouthi added that the announcement, made by Deputy Prime Minister, Defence Minister and leader of the Labour party, Amir Peretz, clearly reveals the emptiness of the Labour partyís claims to support a peace process when it gives its backing to the continued annexation of Palestinian lands.
Dr. Barghouthi ended by stressing the serious threat the move poses to efforts to bring the ongoing occupation to a just and fair end by jeopardizing peace based on a two-state solution, and the challenge it presents to the international community, particularly the United States, the broker of the Road Map under which Israel committed itself to freezing all settlement expansion and to dismantling all existing settlements.
The new settlement, to be named Maskiot, will house 30 families who were evacuated when Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip last year, and will eventually house 100 families.† Construction began months ago, but the project only received final approval from the Defence Ministry on Monday.
Shragai, H., N. Hasson & Y. Ettinger.† 26 December 2006.† New settlement planned for former Gaza settlers.† Haaretz.†