Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Acting amid Stalled Peace, Israeli Settlers Sink in Roots Almost 20 Settlements May Have Sprouted since Wye Accord

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Acting amid Stalled Peace, Israeli Settlers Sink in Roots Almost 20 Settlements May Have Sprouted since Wye Accord

Article excerpt

If you've never seen this dateline before, that's because it didn't exist until a few months ago.

After the Wye accords were signed last October in an attempt to resume Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking, Mitzpeh Danny came to be. Angry about the agreement, Israeli settlers moved a cluster of mobile homes to this barren hilltop, plunked down a generator, erected a road sign, and called it home.

Now eight families make up the population of Mitzpeh Danny, one of the newest facts on the ground in the settlers' race to prevent disputed land from being handed over to Palestinians. According to Peace Now, a dovish Israeli group that opposes settlement in the West Bank and Gaza, Mitzpeh Danny is one of 19 new settlements established since the Wye accords were signed. About half of those were erected since Israeli legislators agreed to hold early elections next month, a move that threatens to cut short the tenure of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Mr. Netanyahu's office says that these new settlements are all within the boundaries of existing settlements. And he argues that, contrary to American and Palestinian claims, Israel never agreed to limit settlement growth when it signed the Wye accords. "Run, grab hills," Foreign Minister Ariel Sharon told settlers after he helped negotiate the Wye accords, in a controversial call to what critics consider vigilante settlement. Like many others, Nehama and Baruch Dorer took him seriously. "We could've done this before the Wye agreement, but we did it now because we needed to show our response," says Nehama Dorer, who moved to Mitzpeh Danny with her husband of two years. "If we can use this time to build new settlements, that's wonderful," she says. Inside their boxy "caravan," as people here call the mobile homes, air conditioning, new furniture, and a vase of fresh flowers set upon a doily are a testimony to the extent to which they consider themselves at home. The real goal, Mrs. Dorer says, is not actually a new settlement - but the unification with the one across the road: Maale Michmas, a settlement founded in 1981. There, a crane clatters as a new neighborhood of regular homes is being built. …

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