Brain Bush’s Blog

Heavy Diplomacy

  • By : Brian Bush
  • July 27, 2009
  • 2:47 pm

Hello Everybody!

I trust you are all well.

Let's take a brief look at the biggest issue in Israel at the moment – the continued diplomatic problem of more settlements in the West Bank.

Today's headline says it all: For first time: number of West Bank settlers tops 300,000. A freshly released report by Israel's Civil Administration shows that in first half of 2009, the settler population grew by 2.3%, triple that of the Israeli average.

And the irony is, today American Middle East Envoy Senator George Mitchell and the American Secretary of Defense Robert Gates are in Israel today, trying to pursue President Obama's desire that all settlement activity of any kind cease.

Despite the European Union, France and Russia joining the demand to freeze construction in eastern Jerusalem – the other hot button issue this week – Israel has said to the world: We will continue to build.

Earlier, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that an agreement on halting construction in the settlements was close. She expressed her optimism over chances of reaching agreement and, very interestingly, demanded that her European colleagues support Israel after such is achieved.

The word never made it to the settlers however, who are preparing to establish 11 additional outposts in a game often described as cat and mouse.

Evacuating the outposts would lessen the diplomatic pressure over the construction in East Jerusalem – or at the very least – delay it.

But there is another group in Israel who are also preparing for the settlers, and that is the country's security forces.

The Israeli Defense Forces have established a special command for outpost evacuations. Israel Police and IDF forces are deployed for confrontation with 1,200 settlers in the outposts. This action looks to be similar to that of the action taken by authorities in Gaza during it's evacuation – except that the country's Border Police West Bank Commander – who heads up a type of para-military force who mainly deal with Palestinians, will be in charge and not the IDF.

Any way you look at it – it will be a long hot summer in more ways than one.

Thanks for checking in!

Brian Bush
Middle East Correspondent
LeSEA Broadcasting

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