Settlement evacuation not a sign of Israeli new policy

09:18, March 02, 2011      

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by Adam Gonn

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday told a member of his Likud party that Israel cannot ignore world pressure over its construction of settlements in the West Bank. Netanyahu said his government is trying to maintain the current pace of building, but Israel now faces a new international reality.

The comments were made one week after the United States used its veto in the UN Security Council to block a resolution condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank, while the 14 other members of the council voted in favor.

Netanyahu also said the U.S. veto took great effort to achieve. "We could ignore it all and say no problem, but as the prime minister responsible for this state, I have the ultimate responsibility," he said.

On Monday, Israeli police evicted settlers from an outpost built without government permission on privately-owned Palestinian land. Such evacuations are not uncommon, but during the event on Monday security forces used a significant amount of forces and crowd control measures, leading observers to believe that Israel will now crack down hard on illegal outposts.

However, local analysts believe the event is not a sign that Netanyahu is changing his government's policy, but has more to do with pleasing the United States after the veto at the UN.

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