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For Immediate Release: November 25th, 2009

U.S. Must Hold Israel Accountable for Lack of Real Settlement Freeze

Washington, DC - The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation welcomed today Special Envoy for Middle East Peace George Mitchell's statement that Israel's partial settlement moratorium "falls short of a full settlement freeze.

Speaking at the State Department, Mitchell reiterated that "United States policy on settlements remains unaffected and unchanged. As the President has said, America does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements."

According to Josh Ruebner, National Advocacy Director of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, "The United States must continue to push Israel for a complete freeze of settlements, including in East Jerusalem. All Israeli settlements in Occupied Palestinian Territories are illegal and must be dismantled.  The Obama Administration should counter Israel's intransigence on settlements by cutting off U.S. military aid to Israel at least until it complies with U.S. policy and international law."

While welcoming the Obama Administration's continued insistence on the illegitimacy of Israeli settlements, the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation challenged its assertion that the partial settlement moratorium "is more than any Israeli Government has done before," noting that Israeli Prime Ministers and governments have pledged at least five times since 1978 to freeze settlements (see below for documentation). 

According to David Hosey, National Media Coordinator of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, "Previous Israeli governments have often pledged to freeze settlement construction, yet they all have continued to expand them. Today's partial moratorium falls into this same pattern. Unless the United States puts its money where its mouth is by ending military aid to Israel there is no incentive for Israel to stop settlement construction." 

Previous Israeli promises to freeze settlements include:

* As part of the 1978 Camp David Accords negotiating process, President Jimmy Carter stated that "Prime Minister Begin pledged that there would be no establishment of new settlements until after the final peace negotiations were completed."  Source: http://www.cartercenter.org/news/documents/doc137.html

* In July 1992, the Israeli government of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin declared a settlement freeze.  Source: http://www.nytimes.com/1992/07/25/world/baker-hails-israeli-freeze-hints-at-approval-of-loan.html

* Israel accepted the Mitchell Report of April 2001, which stated "The GOI [Government of Israel] should freeze all settlement activity, including the "natural growth" of existing settlements."  Source: http://www.mideastweb.org/mitchell_report.htm

* Israel agreed to the "road map" of April 2003, which stipulated that "Consistent with the Mitchell Report, GOI [Government of Israel] freezes all settlement activity (including natural growth of settlements)." Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/2989783.stm

* At the Annapolis Conference in November 2007, Israel and the Palestinian Authority agreed "to immediately implement their respective obligations under the performance-based road map to a permanent two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, issued by the Quartet on 30 April 2003 -- this is called the road map." Source: http://en.wikinews.org/wiki/Statement_of_%22joint_understanding%22_released_after_Annapolis_Conference