The document, leaked to local press, has been called a "declaration of war" by the head of the Yesha settler umbrella group.
Document reveals plan to destroy Israeli settlements
Israel has developed a comprehensive plan for destroying illegal buildings in the occupied West Bank in order to enforce a 10-month easing of settlement construction, local media reported today. The plan follows the declaration of the moratorium on the construction of new houses in the settlements announced by Israel's hawkish prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in November after months of US pressure. Israel's left-leaning Haaretz newspaper, citing a leaked army memo, said the illegal structures would be destroyed in "lightning operations" during which the army should seal off settlements from the media. "The settlers view these evictions as the beginning of the disengagement and will strive to prevent demolitions in any way available," it quoted the document as saying. "There is no concrete intelligence about intention to take up arms but this scenario cannot be discounted, along with attempting to extract a price tag," the document said, referring to the policy among some radical settlers of attacking Palestinians in response to military action against the settlements. The mass-selling >Yediot Aharonot newspaper, citing the same document, said authorities would also accelerate legal action against rioting settlers following several recent confrontations with building inspectors. The Israeli military declined to provide details about the alleged memo, saying only that it "acts according to the instructions of the democratically elected government." The settlers have denounced the plan, with Danny Dayan, the head of the Yesha settler umbrella group, calling it a "declaration of war by the government against civilians." Nearly a half million Israelis live in dozens of settlements scattered across the occupied West Bank and annexed east Jerusalem, all of which are considered illegal by the international community. The Western-backed Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas has said he will not relaunch peace talks suspended nearly a year ago during the Gaza war unless Israel freezes all settlement construction. The moratorium does not include some 3,000 housing units on which construction has already begun or public buildings in the occupied West Bank, and does not apply to east Jerusalem. * AFP