The Israeli Defense Ministry is considering using an Israeli satellite to take photographs of all settlements in the West Bank to help Israeli teams negotiate with their American counterparts the marking construction lines in the West Bank.

The Americans cannot understand why the Israel is finding it difficult to gather important information on the settlements. Some U.S. officials contend this is not a case of ordinary foot-dragging or loss of control over information, but rather an attempt to evade a thorough debate of the problem.

Based on Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon’s commitment, as worded in an April 14, 2004 letter, Americans believe that the definition of the construction lines in the West Bank would be possible to make in few days.

Israel claims that the long delay is due to the difficulty in obtaining complete and credible data on the settlements.

In theory, the data on settlements is available at the Civil Administration. The Civil Administration’s infrastructure branch is in charge of monitoring the settlements and records changes with the help of supervisors who travel from one venue to the next by car, while occasionally flying via helicopter.

Defense Minister Advisor General Baruch Spiegel claimed to have faced troubles obtaining comprehensive data on the settlements’ boundaries. Therefore, the arrival of American experts has been delayed till now.

The last photographic sortie conducted by the Israeli air force over the territories took place only two years ago for some reason.

After that, the Defense Ministry asked a private company, Nesher, to conduct a photographic sortie for the ministry for a fee.

Some defense officials argue that using an Israeli satellite built and launched for a vital strategic and intelligence mission is peculiar.

For several months Israeli seems to be dragging feet on n issue that can be resolved in few days.

Some American commentators believe that if it were not for the U.S. election campaign, this affair surely would have become a serious problem between Israel and the American administration.

The matter will undoubtedly top the list during Weisglass’ upcoming visit to Washington.

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