Israeli settlers who were evacuated from the Gaza Strip are planning to move their mobile houses to a new settlement in the West Bank with an informal promise by the government to back them, Israeli sources reported on Wednesday.
Settlers from Netzarim have been relocated in the West Bank settlement of Ariel and other settlers evacuated from the Gaza Strip were relocated in the Gush Etzion settlement.
At least 20 families, former settlers of Shirat Hayam in the southern Gaza Strip, are planning to move, the sources said.
This time, however, the plan is to build a new settlement, in a location that used to be an Israeli military base, called Maskiyot in the West Bank’s Jordan Valley.
If this move is taken, it would be another violation of the promise Israel made to the United States, before disengagement is implemented, ‘not to move settlers from Gaza Strip to the West bank’ and not to build new settlements.
Additionally, under the U.S.-backed ‘road map’ peace plan, Israel is also required to freeze settlement construction, including expanding existing ones.
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz quoted, in its online edition, an Israeli settler leader in the Jordan Valley saying that government officials have given the Gaza settlers a verbal promise that they can move to Maskiyot, and that final approval should come within two months.
‘This will be a community just like any other community,’ Dubi Tal said. ‘Officials in the prime minister’s offices have given us the signal in a conversation today that they will issue the final permits necessary to establish it.’
Tal also mentioned that two officials in the Ministry of defense have given commitments to the settlers.Ã‚Â
One of the officials, Ron Shechner, an adviser to Israel’s Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, denied there was a plan to establish a new settlement, but confirmed the intention to move the settlers to a new extension of an existing settlement.
‘I don’t know about a new community being established,’ said Shechner.Ã‚Â Ã‚Â ‘If we’re talking about anything, we’re considering expanding an existing settlement.’
Palestinians slammed this move saying it will ridicule the efforts for peace.
‘It seems that the Israelis give with one hand and take away with the other,’ Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said. ‘This violates the road map, which is not proceeding.’