Border Control /Nothing natural about it
According to Col. (res.) Shaul Arieli's calculations, even a hypothetical doubling of the Jewish population's growth rate in Israel would not account for the boom in the settlements.
The myth of "natural population growth" doesn't impress Col. (res.) Shaul Arieli, nor do the stories about little children from good Jewish homes who are left without a kindergarten. Arieli, who in the late 1990s served as deputy military secretary to former prime minister and incumbent Defense Minister Ehud Barak, did the calculations and found that one third of Israelis living in the territories (not including East Jerusalem) settled there during the Oslo years and another third after the peace process was suspended.
Expressed in numbers: From 1992-2001, the number of Jewish settlers increased by approximately 93,000 and four settlements were added; in the period from 2001-2009, another 95,000 settlers were added to the population and 100 additional outposts established.
As for East Jerusalem, 45 percent of Israelis living in East Jerusalem moved there after the Oslo agreement.
And now for the total: While 32 settlements (not including East Jerusalem) were established in the territories between 1967 and 1977, housing some 6,000 settlers, today 127 Jewish settlements can be found in the territories, alongside another 100 outposts, housing a total of 295,000 settlers.
It doesn't take a demographer to deduce from Arieli's figures that "natural population growth" - even at a record 3.4 percent per annum (which is twice the national average among Jews) - cannot explain a 100 percent growth to the settlers' population in 2001-2009.
Sansana says it all
When the heads of the Barack Obama administration ask Defense Minister Ehud Barak about the latest news about the Jewish settlements in the territories, Barak had better not swear that on his watch, no new settlements were constructed. U.S. satellites are photographing every new house in the territories and the American consulate in Jerusalem is reporting on every new building plan that is submitted to the planning commissions. It is therefore highly likely that they also conveyed the story about the settlement of Sansana.
More than two months ago it was reported here that with Barak's special authorization, the Civil Administration deposited a detailed master plan for building this small settlement in the southern Hebron Hills. The first stage involves the retrospective koshering of the illegal construction of more than 50 housing units, which the settlement's inhabitants put up near the Green Line (the pre-Six-Day War border). The plan's second stage foresees the approval of some 400 additional units.
The plan depicts Sansana as an expansion of the Eshkolot settlement - even though a distance of three kilometers separates the two sites, there is no road connecting them and the separation fence runs between them.
At the time, the Defense Minister's Bureau asserted that Sansana had been established in accordance with Cabinet Decision 3951, dating back to 1998, to establish six new settlements along the seam line, and that the planning had been approved in 2003.
But a more recent investigation has shown that there is no connection between Master Plan 3951 and the new plan for Sansana. According to the coordinates mentioned in 3951, Sansana was supposed to be built within the jurisdiction of the Bnei Shimon regional council, located within the Green Line, and not in the jurisdiction of the Hebron Hills regional council, located in the West Bank. This fact also emerges from the aerial photograph appended to the government's decision. Meanwhile, the detailed master Plan for Sansana (505/1) was deposited and prepared in accordance with the Jordanian planning law, as required in the procedure to approve settlements.
Ergo, Sansana was built in the occupied territories, contrary to the government's decision.
Nir Shalev, from the Bimkom - Planners for Planning Rights non-profit organization, which has submitted an objection to the plan, says Sansana fits some of the criteria of an illegal outpost: There is no government decision for its establishment in the territories and it does not have an approved master plan.
The Defense Minister's Bureau has not denied the facts. It was explained that the settlement was allotted state lands, which are "adjacent" to the Green Line, in order to avoid uprooting planted woods. Moreover, the bureau claims that Sansana is located west of the security barrier. It is worth recalling that in the context of the road map, Israel undertook not to construct any new settlements anymore. The world has never recognized the "route of the barrier" as the route of the settlements.
A police state - then and now
Under a plea bargain reached with the prosecution, Gregory Lerner is expected to spend many more years in prison. Within the next few days the oligarch will be found guilty, by virtue of his confession, of stealing NIS 62 million from 2,500 investors, most of them immigrants from the Confederation of Independent States. In the previous round, Lerner was sentenced to six years in prison and a steep fine, after confessing to embezzling about $48 million from three Russian banks and attempting to bribe politicians.
At the height of the first investigation into Lerner's activities, at the end of July 1997, Avigdor Lieberman (the incumbent foreign minister) - who served at the time as director general of the Prime Minister's Bureau under Benjamin Netanyahu (who was prime minister then, as now) - called an urgent press conference. "Investigations against Russians," Lieberman declared, "are part of a witch hunt the likes of which were seen only during the McCarthy era in the United States. What is wrong with a person donating money to institutions or to individuals? Why aren't they examining the donations made by Mr. [Nahum] Manbar, who is accused of spying for an enemy country? In the social climate we have created, anyone who has succeeded has to be screwed, and any nuisance and informer becomes a police stool-pigeon."
On that same occasion, this very loyal citizen suggested a flattering definition of the State of Israel: "We are much more of a police state than a law state." It would be interesting to find out whether Lieberman still holds the same beliefs today, now that his party has gained control over the police.