Date: Mon, 16 Dec 96 13:45:11 CST
From: LAWE <email@example.com^2;
Subject: Israeli Cabinet OKs Benefits to Jewish Settlers
Jerusalem - On Friday, 13 December, the Israeli government agreed to a series of incentives to strengthen existing settlements and to encourage Jewish Israelis to settle in the occupied West Bank. The Israeli cabinet, at its weekly meeting, decided to reinstate benefits for West Bank settlers, in a re-classification of the West Bank called >q>A-level national priority area status. These benefits include lower taxes and investment in infrastructure like the Jewish-only by-pass roads.
These benefits had been canceled by the previous Labor-led government as antithetical to the peace negotiations, as settlement expansion and government-encouraged population transfer is explicitly forbidden in the second Oslo agreement (Article 38) and in international law (Fourth Geneva Convention). Jewish settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories are considered by the United Nations, the United States, the international community and the Palestinians as the most signficant obstacle to peace.
LAW - The Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment condemns this move in the strongest possible terms.
This latest action on the part of the Israeli cabinet seals the Israeli government's official opposition to the Oslo accords.
This kind of highly inflammatory move further threatens the fragile stability in the West Bank and Jerusalem, as the Palestinian people see themselves as further dispossessed from their lands and the Palestinian leadership distances itself from the Israeli government.
Encouraging population transfer into the occupied territories, along with the approval of thousands of additional housing units for West Bank and Jerusalem settlements and PM Netanyahu's stated opposition to exchanging land for peace, requires a basic re-thinking on the part of the international and diplomatic communities in how they relate to the Israeli government and the stalled peace negotiations. LAW calls all interested parties to voice their opposition this destructive and potentially explosive decision by faxing: Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at (972) (2) 566 4838, and Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordechai at (972) (3) 691 6940.