Barak Okays 5 Mobile Homes for Settlement

Defense Minister Ehud Barak recently approved the the transfer of five mobile homes to the settlement of Teneh Omarim in the southern Hebron Hills for evacuees from the Gush Katif settlement of Morag.

The Civil Administration spokesman confirmed that the mobile homes had been set up with the full approval of the authorities.

In response to a question by MK Avshalom Vilan (Meretz), Eitan Broshi, the minister's aide on settlement issues, said the mobile homes' "had been approved for transport and placement within an area that has a valid construction plan for lots intended for housing." Broshi noted that the structures "constituted a substitute for [permanent] housing that by law could be implemented by virtue of the plans being valid."

Teneh Omarim is located east of the security fence, and outside the West Bank's large settlement blocs. In a parliamentary question, Vilan argued that placing mobile homes in this settlement comes in opposition to the government's pledge not to expand existing settlements and constitutes a serious violation of the Sharon government's pledge to the American administration not to settle Gush Katif evacuees in the West Bank.

Vilan called the move "a shameful surrender to the extreme right," and demanded that Barak remove the mobile homes from the settlement.

Israel's obligation according to the road map precludes construction in existing West Bank settlement blocs, even to accommodate natural increase.

Meanwhile, a group of evacuees from the former Gaza Strip settlement of Netzarim has settled in Ariel in the northern West Bank, and a group from the settlement of Shirat Hayam is waiting in the settlement of Hemdat for its permanent housing in Maskiot, in the Jordan Valley. In December 2006, former defense minister Amir Peretz decided that 30 new homes would be built at Maskiot for the Shirat Hayam evacuees.

Peretz subsequently retracted his decision, but work on the houses began without permits and the first families moved in at the beginning of March. The Civil Administration has issued demolition orders against seven of the houses.

According to figures provided by Peace Now, construction work is currently being carried out throughout the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Among the projects west of the security fence taking place is a housing project at Ma'aleh Adumim for which NIS 4,840,000 has been allocated to it from the government budget. In Givat Ze'ev, hundreds of units are under construction in the Mashav neighborhood and approval has been given for the Agan Ayalot neighborhood. Construction is ongoing at Har Shmuel and Alfei Menashe, Neveh Daniel, Rosh Tzurim, Har Gilo, Karnei Shomron, and elsewhere.

Projects east of the fence are more limited. Among them are private homes in Carmel, Kokhav Ya'akov, Kiryat Arba, and Susiya, where homes, poultry runs and hothouses have been built.

According to Peace Now figures, new mobile homes and permanent homes are being built in outposts at the pre-Annapolis conference rate.