[Ed. note: Oh yes, Israel is building yet more illegal settlements on Palestinian land.]
If you haven't been paying attention, you might think that things in the Middle East, save for Iraq, have been fairly quiet and peaceful.
Fpr example, you might not know that, although Israel agreed to get out of Lebanon and stay out once international peacekeeping forces were in place there, Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) violate Lebanese airspace on a daily basis, frequently buzzing French troops stationed there. Israel refuses to stop (most of the time refusing to admit they are doing so, despite rather copious evidence to the contrary).
Likewise, they've continued shooting fish in a barrel in Gaza - which when you compare sophisticated Israeli fire power to that of the Palestinians - and have now announced Israeli forces will begin a fresh round of operations in Gaza despite a partial cease-fire. And of course, Israel continues to make it impossible for international observers to document what they are doing.
But here, I encourage you to read an op/ed in today's Times entitled, "Israel's Mixed Messages" which, in part, reads:
The Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, took some encouraging steps over the weekend to ease the frustrations Palestinians face at West Bank and Gaza checkpoints. He hoped in that way to strengthen Mahmoud Abbas, the embattled moderate who presides over the Palestinian Authority. Unfortunately, Israel’s defense minister, Amir Peretz, has undercut these moves by approving the first new West Bank settlement in more than a decade.
Israel’s space for peace diplomacy is tightly constrained. It must reckon with a Hamas-led Palestinian cabinet that denies its right to exist and rejects the very notion of a negotiated peace. Yet those facts of Mideast life do not justify authorizing a new settlement. That self-defeating move adds nothing to Israel’s security and needlessly complicates the quest for an eventual negotiated peace.
In addition, Israel will turn over $100 million of the $500 million in Palestinian tax revenue it has withheld since Hamas came to power. This page supports freezing aid to the Hamas government. But tax revenue to which the Palestinians are legally entitled should never have been withheld.