Ramallah is still closed. The news says the PFLP did accept responsibility for the attack which confirms yesterday's rumours. Abu Ahmed Fuad, their man in Damascus, stated that the attack was motivated by Israel's settlement policies. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu also had something to say on this issue at yesterday's funeral in Beit El, which he attended along with three government ministers.
"PM: Our answer to terror - build and settle" ran the headline of today's Jerusalem Post. The front page article revealed the extremist side of the Likud Netanyahu, a man whose capacity to provoke Palestinians is only surpassed by his lack of understanding of the forces that create terrorism, despite having written four books on the subject:
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, standing over the fresh graves of Etta and Ephraim Tzur, pledged yesterday that the government will increase its efforts to ensure the existence of the Jewish people in its historic land.
"Beit El is important to us," Netanyahu said. "The roots of the people of Israel are in the land of Beit El, Shilo, Betar and Hebron. And not only will these roots not be torn out, they will be made deeper."
Beit El and Beit El B were established in 1977 and 1979 on Beitin village land. Shilo in 1978 on Turmus 'Ayya and Quryut land. Betar in Wadi Fukin in 1982. Betar which Netanyahu also mentioned, if you remember, was the settlement of Nahum Korman, the security chief who clubbed 11-year-old Israeli Arab boy Hilmi Shoushi to death at the end of October. No Israeli government ministers attended Hilmi's funeral.
Hebron, the last place Netanyahu mentioned, saw 24 settlements built in the first 20 years of the occupation, the majority of which were established in the first half of the 1980's. The Likud-era of Israeli government, 1977-1992, was characterised by more land confiscation and more settlement activity than had ever been seen before in Israeli history. The number of settlers in the occupied territories increased by over two thousand percent during this period, to approximately 110,000 people.
Back in power in May 1996, Likud's party platform included the statement, "Settlement in all parts of the Land of Israel is of national importance and part of Israel's defence strategy. The government will allocate special resources for settlement in border and sparsely populated areas."
It should also be noted that Likud have an interesting definition of what needs its "defence" attention. The map on the right shows the kind of paranoia and fear-mongering that helped the party win the elections. Distances are in kilometers to demonstrate how easy it would be for Palestinians to shell Israeli cities if they were given a state. Settlement is meant to make it impossible for the creation of a state.
National Infrastructure Minister Ariel Sharon, a key player in the settlement explosion of the 1980's, is once again involved, this time in charge of the expansion. There are an estimated 150,000 settlers today in the West Bank (excluding East Jerusalem).
Sharon, speaking at the funeral to Yoel Tzur, said, "I have no words of comfort for you, Yoel. I have no words of consolation. How can one console the death of a mother and son? There is no solace. Comfort is not what is needed now, but a true Zionist act, that is what the nation expects."
"Tzur called on the government to immediately begin building 1,000 units on Har Artis in Beit El as a response to the attack," the Jerusalem Post continued. In an Israel Radio interview Tzur, a reserve major in the Israeli army, stated, "[Netanyahu] must be firm and say that every place where a Jew is harmed, a settlement will be established or expanded. An Arab who goes out on an attack should know that he is, with his own hands, leading to the building and strengthening of the settlement in Judea and Samaria."
Chairman of the 'Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza' (i.e. the head of the settlements' council of the occupied Palestinian territories), Pinchas Wallerstein, promised yesterday that, "We will provide a Zionist response. A Zionist response is the expansion of the settlements.... Every time Jewish blood is spilled, 1,000 new Jewish families will come here."
Wallerstein, by the way, is the man responsible for building the security-unconscious bypass road in the first place. He did so without a permit from the Israeli government, whose soldiers at the Surda checkpoint will be the first to tell you what a bad idea the road was.