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MER - Washington - 9/30/97:
     Even more than Netanyahu, the hand of Ariel Sharon is firmly behind Israeli policies, most especially the settlement expansion policies. Yet even so -- cajoled and threatened by the United States -- the Arab client-regimes are heading to the fourth U.S.-Israel sponsored "economic summit" in a few weeks, this one in Doha.
    This very important and very symbolic matter was discussed in the previous MER a few days ago. The concluding paragraph of the article read: "Meanwhile, adding insult to injury, none other than Ariel Sharon will be heading up Israel's delegation if Doha takes place. Sharon -- the war criminal of Sabra and Shatilla. Sharon -- one of Israel's greatest thugs and Palestinian killers. Sharon -- the only senior Israeli official who commandered a house in the Muslim quarter of Old Jerusalem on top of which he prominently flies the Israeli flag and a Menorah for all to see (all guarded 24-hours daily by Israeli troops of course).
    Sharon -- the Minister in charge of building still more Israeli settlements to permanently disinfranchise and ghettoize the Palestinians." The following additional information about Sharon, published in Hebrew in the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz, has now come to our attention:
     "A plan to establish a chain of 17 new settlements between Jerusalem and the southern Mount Hebron area just inside the Green Line has been approved by Interior Minister Eli Suissa and passed on to the planning units in his ministry.
     "The plan was initiated by National Infrastructure Minister Ariel Sharon. The new settlements are intended as the final stage of the plan formulated by Sharon in the 1980s, when he served as housing minister, to ensure continuous Jewish settlement along the entire boundary line of the West Bank.
"Sharon's spokesman, Ra'anan Gissin, said the plan would 'protect the land from being taken over by Palestinians and Bedouin.' Gissin said Israel must 'seize the land and create facts on the ground' before the final status negotiations.
     "'It's a war,' Gissin stated. He said economic problems and a sense of insecurity caused by agricultural thefts in the area where the new settlements are planned had driven out many residents in recent years.
     "At present, he said, there are only about 5,000 residents there, and 26,000 dunams (6,500 acres) of state land had been abandoned. 'It is urgent to double the number of residents,' said Gissin.
"Sources in the Israel Lands Administration (ILA) said that a Jewish settlement will be established 'opposite every Palestinian village that lies close to the Green Line, and whose residents are trying to push the Green Line westward.'
     "The plan has aroused opposition from both left and right. Spokesmen for left-wing parties said that Sharon wants to push the border between Israel and a future Palestinian state eastward.
"They claim that the new chain of settlements will stifle the West Bank and prevent the creation of the 'safe passage' route between the West Bank and Gaza which is stipulated under the Oslo accords..." {HAARETZ - 9/15}
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