But, of course, the world isn't asking Israel to withdraw from existing settlements; such withdrawal is precisely the subject of the never-ending, or rather never-starting, negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. All the world is asking is for Israel to stop building new settlements, and to crack down on those fundamentalist Jews who set up illegal outposts. Only if Israel refrained from further expanding in the West Bank would it convince the international community that it's truly committed to a two-state solution. No peace negotiation was ever furthered by one of the sides creating ever more obstacles to the process under the vague promise that they will be removed all of a sudden when a final agreement is reached.
The usual response from Zionists is that settlement expansion is restricted to the large blocs around or near Jerusalem "that will have to remain inside Israel in a final status agreement" and is needed to accommodate natural population growth. Since the West Bank Jewish population grows by more than 7% a year, settlers seem to be procreating at a rate that would make a rodent blush. The other possible explanation is that settlers are being brought from abroad (for instance, Brooklyn or France) to grab more land from the Palestinians. But truth does not trouble Zionists so long as they can don a fig leaf and plausibly deny everything.
However, now and then a smoking gun reveals their true colors. Undetected by the Western MSM's radar, a Ynet story from Sunday tells us about plans for new housing for civilian settlers to be built in Maskiot, in the Jordan Valley -- i.e., far removed from the settlement blocs that have made it into the Guinness' Book for their ability to naturally grow. Reports the Israeli paper:
As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's plane landed in Washington Sunday, contractors were being given a tour of the northern Jordan Valley settlement Maskiot in the framework of a tender that was issued to build a new neighborhood there.
"The tender is part of the process to populate the community," Jordan Valley Regional Council Chairman David Elhayani told Ynet.
Ynet goes on to trace the history of the settlement.
Established in 1982, Maskiot formerly housed a Nahal Brigade base and several years ago included a pre-conscription military academy for national-religious youth. In December 2006, then-Defense Minister Amir Peretz approved the decision to build 30 new homes in the religious community, where the evacuees from the settlement of Shirat Hayam in Gush Katif could be housed. Peretz later revoked his decision amid US pressure.
In July 2008 Defense Minister Ehud Barak authorized the settlement's repopulation with 50 families, some of them from the evacuated Jewish settlements in Gaza. Currently about 10 families reside in Maskiot, but many others are waiting for their lots to be released.
I.e., former military facilities (legal under occupation) are being turned into a civilian settlement (completely illegal as it transfers civilians from Israel proper to an occupied territory).
By Monday afternoon, the Israeli government was doing the understandable damage control, "cautioning" that final approvals would be needed before any construction could take place, and that none had been given. However, the Jordan Valley Regional Council Chairman didn't join in the fig-leaf donning:
The contractors' tour, he said, was scheduled in advance of Netanyahu's visit to DC. The fact that two events happened almost back-to-back, he said, "was an amazing coincidence." He said he was confident that the project would move forward.
It was an optimism shared by Yossi Hazut, formerly of Shirat Hayam, who lives at the site already with his family.
He said he expected that by the end of the year six more caravans will have been placed there and that the community would continue to grow.
Mr. Elhayani's candor went even further:
"This process takes a few months to complete. The timing is coincidental, and anyone who says otherwise is jeopardizing Israel's security-related interests. There is a consensus among the Zionist parties that the Jordan Valley must remain under Israel's control in any future (peace) agreement."
That's it, in case you entertained any doubts that Israel's territorial ambitions in the West Bank go far beyond the few large settlement blocs that the Zionists would like us to believe they are restricted to.