19 March 2002
34 New West Bank Settlements Spotted
The New York Times
JERUSALEM, March 18 � A survey published today by the Peace Now movement said that 34 new Israeli settlement sites had been built in the West Bank since Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was elected more than a year ago.
The survey, based on aerial photographs, said the new sites were spotted at distances ranging from a few hundred yards to nearly two miles from existing settlements.
Many of the sites are officially described as extensions of the existing communities or new neighborhoods of those communities.
Raanan Gissin, a spokesman for Mr. Sharon, said that the Peace Now list included many sites whose construction had been approved by the previous government, and that any unauthorized building would be removed.
"This government has given no approvals for new settlements," Mr. Gissin said.
He added that government policy allowed for construction in built-up areas of existing settlements or within the limits of their town plan. Such plans can extend hundreds of yards or more from the settlement core.
The list of the sites compiled by Peace Now, which opposes settlement construction, shows that new structures have appeared since February last year at points across the West Bank. They range from single structures to 22 at one site. Most of the new dwellings are mobile homes.
A plan for a return to peace talks drawn up by former Senator George J.Mitchell calls for confidence-building steps that include a freeze of Israeli settlement activity.
The Peace Now group said it had found no new settlements between May 1999 and February 2001, when Ehud Barak was prime minister.
Copyright 2002 The New York Times Company