The top news story in today's Middle East Peace Report offers a real scoop. Just two days after Netanyahu met with Obama in the Oval Office, Israel approved construction at a new settlement site. While the approval for new construction in the settlements is being reported on in the Israeli press today, nobody else seems to have yet realized that the decision was approved immediately after the Netanyahu-Obama meeting.
Below is the article from the Middle East Peace Report. Hebrew readers might want to take a look at the affidavit it references.
DISRESPECTING OBAMA: An affidavit provided to the Israeli High Court of Justice yesterday testifies that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government approved the construction of a new "neighborhood" near the settlement of Adam just two days after Netanyahu met with President Barack Obama in the White House.
Speaking to reporters alongside Netanyahu on May 18th, Obama reiterated that Israel had committed to a settlement freeze and said that "settlements have to be stopped in order for us to move forward."
The affidavit, signed by Defense Ministry official Eitan Broshi, was provided to the court as a status report on Israel's plans to remove settlers from the outpost of Migron. The court's involvement follows a Peace Now legal petition which prompted the Israeli government to undertake to remove the settlers from Migron. In the course of the case, the government also conceded that this outpost was built on private Palestinian property.
Broshi, who serves as settlement affairs advisor to Defense Minister Ehud Barak, tells the court that the Defense Ministry approved the construction of a new neighborhood on May 20th, and that this was done with the consent of Israel's political leaders. "Allow me to make clear that the understandings to advance the establishment of the new neighborhood were examined by the current political echelon... and was authorized by them," he swore.
Currently about 2,000 settlers reside in Adam. That population would grow exponentially if the plan Broshi describes were carried out in full. 1450 housing units are planned for the new neighborhood, although Broshi makes clear that final Defense Ministry approval has only been provided for the construction of 50 houses at this point.
Presumably, those 50 units would accommodate the current residents of the Migron outpost. "Instead of evacuating the illegal outpost of 40 housing units, Barak rewards law breakers and approves the establishment of a future settlement of 1450 housing units, east of the [West Bank] separation barrier. Barak is proving to the settler leadership that violence and illegal outpost construction pay off," Peace Now Director General Yariv Oppenheimer told Ma'arivNRG. (PeaceNow.org.il, 6/29/09; Haaretz, 6/29/09; Israel Army Radio, 6/29/09; Ma'arivNRG, 6/29/09)