Thursday, September 23, 2010

His Name is Yarden

You know the oldest principle of journalism - whatever you write, spell my name correctly?

Well, Adi's family name is Yarden. (And "Shilo" should be spelled "Shiloh")

Hopes and fears as settlement freeze due to expire

Adi Erdan got a permit to build a house in the Shiloh settlement just before restrictions came into effect. Standing on the cement foundations of what he anticipates will soon be his new home, Adi Erdan feels a rush of excitement. His landlord has long wanted him to leave the property nearby where he currently lives with his six children. He has been waiting to begin work since November.

"Most of all I have hope. This Sunday we start to build the house," he declares. "It will take only four months."

Mr Erdan lives in Shiloh, a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank, half-way between Ramallah and Nablus.

He got his construction permit from the Israeli defence ministry a day before the Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, imposed a 10-month partial moratorium on new residential buildings. In the first week of the freeze he laid down the base of his house but decided not to provoke the authorities by going further.

Like many in Shiloh, he is frustrated at mounting pressure on Israel, particularly from the United States and the Quartet of Middle East peace-makers to halt new settlement activity..."I think that instead of being a person who builds his house I am like a toy. Also my children are like toys in a game of others that I don't understand," Mr Erdan says.

Further down the hill there is already the sound of power drills and hammers, as contractors put window frames into one of 18 new settler houses. Construction here began before the freeze was introduced and so was allowed to continue.

The building of a synagogue and school in Shiloh also went ahead as the temporary curb did not apply to public buildings the Israeli government deemed "necessary for normal life".

And the other side:

For Palestinians living close to the settlements, any signs of further growth are a sensitive issue.

Abdul Rahman lives in Lubban al-Sharqiya, to the west of Shiloh and another settlement, Eli.

"They want to give us small, small areas everywhere - with settlements between them and they control the main street," he complains. "For what do they need these settlements? I think just to let us feel angry."

He insists that ultimately any freeze is meaningless as nothing short of a full withdrawal by Israel to its 1967 borders will allow a viable Palestinian state and produce peace.

"We have accepted the United Nations' position. What Israel occupied from 1967 it has to draw back from," he says. "The Israeli government, they have to choose between land and peace. They cannot get both. I want to see peace and these settlements empty."

Speculation is rife about what will happen next. Mr Netanyahu has resisted any new official extension of restrictions on settlement building that could shake his right-wing governing coalition. Yet many believe he may be working on a compromise to try to keep the Palestinians at the negotiating table.

Whatever announcements are made, in Shiloh and Lubban al-Sharqiya they will be listening carefully.

Other reports:

Guardian in Elazar.

Harvard Crimson in Alon Shvut.

ABC in Efrat.

Bloomberg in Neriah.

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1 comment:

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