Press Release
Contact Information: Hussein Ibish
February 27, 2009 - 1:00am

Washington DC, Feb. 27 – The American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP) today warned that a series of planned major expansions in Israel’s settlements in the occupied West Bank constitute an exceptionally dangerous threat to the prospects of a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. In addition to the already announced major expansion of the Givat Ha'eytam settlement south of Jerusalem, and plans to demolish 88 Palestinian homes in Silwan in occupied Arab East Jerusalem, new plans for a large increase in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc have been discovered by the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem.

Israeli media sources report that Israeli occupation Civil Administration documents anticipate the addition of thousands of housing units in the Gva'ot settlement, which is currently inhabited by only 12 settler families. Another 2,000 housing units are reportedly planned for the Bat Ayin settlement in which 120 settler families presently live. Reports suggest that thousands of other housing units in other West Bank settlements are also being planned, and “hundreds” of such expansion plans are being developed in the relevant Israeli ministries. It is also reported that sewage and other civic infrastructure plans for the occupied West Bank appear to anticipate major population growth in numerous settlements.

ATFP emphasized that settlement expansion is the single greatest threat to prospects for an end of conflict agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, by both practically and politically undermining prospects for the creation of a viable, independent Palestinian state. Settlement expansion also threatens to increase the constituency of those in Israel intransigently opposed to ending the occupation and to peace, and undermines Palestinian and Arab confidence in Israel’s desire for a reasonable agreement. Any settlement activity is contrary to Israel’s obligations under the Roadmap, and would violate existing understandings with the United States not to expand West Bank settlements.

ATFP urged President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to forcefully express the strong opposition of the United States to any such settlement expansions during the Secretary’s upcoming trip to Egypt, Israel and the occupied Palestinian Territories.

ATFP President Ziad Asali said, “President Obama and Secretary Clinton should join forces with responsible leadership in Congress in making clear the opposition of the United States government to these exceptionally dangerous plans to deepen Israel’s occupation of the West Bank.” “All hopes for an end to the conflict can only be based on two states, Israel and Palestine, living side-by-side in peace and security. Settlement expansion makes the realization of such a peace agreement more difficult in every way,” he continued. Dr. Asali concluded that, “these planed settlement expansions are not only a boon to extremists on all sides and a significant threat to the very possibility of peace, they are also fundamentally incompatible with the national interests of the Palestinian people, Israel and the United States.”


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017