United States: Protesters greet Netanyahu over settlements

July 9, 2010

Hundreds of activists in Washington, DC demonstrated on July 6 outside the White House to protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit.

Protesters held signs calling on the US government to end military aid to Israel as Netanhayu met US President Barack Obama.

After the meeting, Obama said: “I think the Israeli government, working through layers of various governmental entities and jurisdictions, has shown restraint over the last several months that I think has been conducive to the prospects of us getting into direct talks.”

Earlier in the week, right-wing Israeli settler groups from illegal colonies inside the occupied West Bank called on Netanyahu to honour a “promise to resume” settlement construction after his much-lauded 10-month moratorium that ends on September 26.

But settlement construction has not stopped during Netanyahu’s supposed moratorium that began in November.

Coinciding with Netanyahu’s White House visit, the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem published a report documenting the ongoing “means employed by Israel to gain control of land for building the settlements”.

B’Tselem said that after Netanyahu’s announcement of a settlement construction “freeze”, Israel’s Central Command office allowed building “for which permits had already been issued and whose foundations had been laid”.

B’Tselem said the settler population inside the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem has doubled since the mid-1990s. About 500,000 Israeli settlers are now living in 121 illegal settlement colonies, in nearly 100 “outposts” in the West Bank and in 12 neighborhoods in East Jerusalem “on land it annexed to the Jerusalem Municipality”.

It said: “The settlement enterprise has been characterized, since its inception, by an instrumental, cynical, and even criminal approach to international law, local legislation, Israeli military orders and Israeli law, which has enabled the continuous pilfering of land from Palestinians in the West Bank.”

More than 42% of the West Bank, said B’Tselem, has been appropriated to this ever-expanding settlement infrastructure.

[Abridged from Electronic Intifada.]