Settlements expanded

Ariel Sharon is building as many settlements as he can in the Palestinian Occupied Territories before the planned pull-out:

Sharon's plan of "unilateral disengagement" calls for a withdrawal from all of Gaza and four West Bank settlements by September 2005. Sharon has said that in exchange, he wants to keep and expand several large settlement blocs in the West Bank — a demand that has won the tacit support of US President George W. Bush. The Israeli daily Maariv reported Tuesday that Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz has asked the military to draw up plans within three months for building thousands of homes in three of the settlement blocs — Gush Etzion, Maale Adumim and Ariel. Mofaz met Monday with settler leaders in Gush Etzion, and security officials said he told them he would consider their request to authorise between 1,000 and 2,000 new homes in the area. Mofaz told settlers he would make a decision within three months, the officials said on condition of anonymity.

See also the Maariv article which refers to the West Bank as "Judea and Samaria."

Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region,