AM - Thursday, 29 January , 2009 08:12:00
Reporter: Ben Knight
PETER CAVE: Barack Obama's envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, has arrived in Israel...[and] Middle East correspondent Ben Knight reports from Jerusalem:-
...George Mitchell's report formed part of the basis of the roadmap for peace which called on Palestinians to end violent attacks on Israel and for Israel to stop building in the settlements.
Clearly Palestinian attacks on Israel continue, and not just from Gaza.
But almost a decade after George Mitchell's last mission here, settlements are still expanding in the West Bank. A new report by the organisation Peace Now says at least 1500 structures were built in West Bank settlements last year; and that only four outposts - where settlers illegally set up caravans to claim new land - have been evacuated.
(Sound of car pulling up)
I'm on a hilltop near the Palestinian village of Sinjel [that's out by us in the Shiloh Bloc of communities] with Israeli Dror Etkes whose full-time job is keeping an eye on building in the settlements.
DROR ETKES: From here we can see about five, six, seven different outposts and another three, or four, five settlements.
BEN KNIGHT: And all of those outposts are illegal, according to Israeli law?
DROR ETKES: Well, it's even more complicated. [it sure is. all of them, except one, I think, are within the zoned plans deposited with various government ministries over the years] But the big part of construction also within the settlements is illegal according to Israeli law.
BEN KNIGHT: From where we're standing, we see a newly bulldozed road leading to an outpost, cutting straight across paddocks owned by the Arab village nearby. Yet Dror Etkes says the Israeli Government will do nothing.
DROR ETKES: The people who have done it know very well that they enjoy full impunity and nothing would happen to them. They know it simply because they have done very, very similar things in many, many other parts of the West Bank not too far away from here and nothing happened to them before.
BEN KNIGHT: George Mitchell is clearly no stranger to the settlement issue but the war in Gaza - which flared again just hours before his arrival - has already coloured his visit.
(Sound of person talking over loudspeaker)
I'm here outside the house of the Israeli President Shimon Peres where the settler movement has organised a truck with a big billboard on the back. It shows a picture of Tel Aviv and outside of that picture are poking the tail ends of three missiles. It's here for George Mitchell to see as he drives past and read the sign in English that says, "A Palestinian state, qassam missiles in all our cities".
DANNY DAYAN: The establishment of a Palestinian state is the potential problem and not the solution.
BEN KNIGHT: The settler council spokesman is Danny Dayan.
DANNY DAYAN: It will be a launching pad for further aggression against the state of Israel and I will think it will have catastrophic consequences for the world peace.
PETER CAVE: Israeli settler council spokesman Danny Dayan
ending Ben Knight's report.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Yesha, Mitchell on Australia Media
US peace envoy arrives in Israel