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MER - Washington - 8 January:

    Israeli Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordechai on 31 December had the following to say as he shoveled wet concrete into a hole to symbolize the launch of still more Israeli settlements in the very heart of the few remaining areas that could still possibly comprise a real rather than a sham Palestinian State.

    "Everyone has to understand clearly that this quarter is necessary for the people of Beit El," Mordechai insisted, this time in Beit El, an Israeli settlement near the major Palestinian city of Ramallah.

   "The people of Beit El have to build their houses here just as the people of New York, Paris, or Tel Aviv have to build their apartments".

    And so, up go another 130 new housing units, these near Beit El, with many thousands of others springing up throughout the occupied territories, and even more in the Jerusalem area, continuing the
Israeli plan to completely surround the shrinking Arab sections of Jerusalem with Israeli "Jews-only" housing projects.

    But don't forget the history of all this, or be misled by the in-fighting among Israel's two major parties, Labor and Likud. Labor is master of stealth and deception, saying one thing while doing another.  The original settlement plans for the occupied territories, and most of the expansion in the crucial Jerusalem
area, originated from the Labor party.  Likud has always been far more outspoken, but in a sense more honest about it all; and hence this clear and assertive statement by Mordechai.

    In the end it's kind of like the Good Cop/Bad Cop routine... and the settlements role on no matter which party is in power.


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