STOP Ariel Settlement Construction!

WILPF Asks Members to Write to President Bush

WILPF calls its members to write to President Bush supporting his opposition to new settlement construction in the Ariel Settlement in the West Bank. However, he must act on his statement by stopping military and economic aid that supports Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands.

Copies of the letters should be sent to local newspapers and shared with co-activist organizations. (Copies should also be sent to Kate Zaidan at the U.S. WILPF office.)

BACKGROUND INFORMATION:
Despite U.S. Administration objections, the Israeli government recently approved construction of 117 new housing units to be built in Ariel, a strategically placed settlement located close to Tel Aviv and near the center of the West Bank. In addition, the defense ministry has preliminary plans to build a neighborhood of 3,000 homes in the southern part of the settlement. This approval officially lifts a 1990s ban on new housing.

President Bush and members of his administration have made repeated appeals to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to observe the initial freeze executed nearly a decade ago. The freeze is in accordance with the U.S. supported “Road Map” to peace. Sharon’s determination to lift the freeze was evident when he was quoted as saying Israel will press ahead with construction in large West Bank settlement blocs. He was quoted as saying, “although I don’t think the U.S. will be too happy.”

Ariel, an Israeli settlement constructed in the late 1970s with 40 settlers has grown in population to nearly 20,000, and has enjoyed enormous financial backing from Israel’s government. Due to its central location in the West Bank and its physical presence in a rich agricultural and water abundant area, Ariel disrupts contiguous Palestinian territory and halts Palestinian ability to freely access its resources. In addition, new construction will expropriate 2,700 acres of land from nearby Palestine.

Therefore, the struggle for Palestinian autonomy and the possibility of a just peace are significantly hindered by further construction in this region.

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