On Sasson Report Anniversary, Erekat Pans Accelerated Settlement Activity

Press Releases
March 13, 2006


A year after the publication of the Sasson Report, Dr. Saeb Erekat, Chief Palestinian Negotiator, described Israel’s accelerated settlement activity in the occupied West Bank as “a cancerous attack on the prospects for peace.”

Today marks the first anniversary since the Israeli cabinet met to discuss the Sasson Report, which detailed the complicity of Israeli governmental agencies in the establishment of so-called “unauthorized” outposts in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). The Report found that the establishment of such settlements violates even Israeli law.

However, the Report’s findings have largely not been addressed. Despite Israel’s evacuation of 8,500 settlers, the net population of settlers in the oPt actually increased over the past year, according to recent reports.

Under international law, Israeli outposts, like all settlements in the oPt, including East Jerusalem, are illegal. The illegality of all Israeli settlements was reaffirmed by the International Court of Justice in July, 2004.

Dr. Erekat also reacted to recent comments by leading Kadima Party candidates that a Kadima-led government would move to determine unilaterally the borders of Israel, while maintaining control of occupied East Jerusalem, the Jordan Valley and many illegal settlements deep within the oPt. Avi Dichter, the former head of Shin Bet, recently suggested that evacuated settlers could be housed in the settlement blocs maintained by Israel post-withdrawal. Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is also openly committed to “thickening” settlement blocs.

“Israel must understand that dismantling some of its illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank and consolidating others with invaluable land and water resources is like removing part of a cancerous tumour, while encouraging it to spread elsewhere,” said Dr. Erekat.

“Continuing to consolidate settlements – especially in and around occupied East Jerusalem - is not only a grave violation of international law, it is a disease that will kill the Two-State Solution by defeating the viability of a Palestinian state,” he said. “Without a viable Palestinian state,” Dr. Erekat continued, “we cannot achieve our ultimate goal of a viable and lasting peace.”

Pouring scorn on Israeli unilateralism, Dr. Erekat added, “Israel will not gain security by investing in concrete walls, razor-wire fences and other trappings of occupation, but by investing in negotiations with the PLO. The only secure borders are agreed-upon borders.”

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