Monday, August 24, 2009

West Bank settlements: an impassable obstacle on the road to peace

Ian Black, Middle East editor, Sunday 23 August 2009 19

"......That remained true after 1993, when Yasser Arafat signed the Oslo agreement with Yitzhak Rabin but without securing a settlement freeze. The number of settlements and settlers doubled in the decade that followed. In 1998 Ariel Sharon, then in charge of US-brokered talks with Arafat, urged settlers "to move, run and grab as many hilltops as they can … because everything we take now will stay ours. Everything we don't grab will go to them." In 2004, as prime minister, he persuaded George Bush to endorse the same "new realities on the ground" that Obama is now challenging.

No wonder, says a senior western diplomat in Tel Aviv, that "Palestinians above all point to settlements as proof that even when the Israelis are talking peace, annexation is the real agenda"."

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