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Israel to face new White House vigour on peac -

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Israel to face new White House vigour on peace deal

The World Today - Monday, 18 May , 2009 12:34:00

EDMOND ROY: The last time a US president held official talks with Israel's Prime Minister - it was
George W. Bush meeting Ehud Olmert.

Today Israel's new Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will visit the White House for what promises
to be a new era in the US-Israel alliance.

The US, under Barack Obama, plans to take a much tougher stance on peace talks in the Middle East.

One key American demand is for Israel to stop the growth of Jewish settlements in the West Bank -
something that could prove a major obstacle to peace.

Middle East correspondent Anne Barker reports.

(Sound of Israeli men talking)

ANNE BARKER: These young men are Jewish settlers who believe they have a God given right to live in
the West Bank.

YOSEF: We want to build the land of Israel, we want to build the whole, build the land all over.

ANNE BARKER: From their home near the settlement of Kedumim, Yosef - not his real name - and his
friends have sweeping views over the surrounding hills.

But it's also land the Palestinians believe is rightfully theirs, and hope that one day will be
part of an independent Palestinian state.

(Sound of Palestinian woman speaking)

"This land belongs to the Palestinians", this woman says. "It doesn't belong to the settlers at
all."

"It's not Jewish land. I wish God would break their souls."

Yosef is one of nearly 300,000 Jewish settlers who've moved into the West Bank since Israel
occupied the land in 1967. Most of the settlements are legal under Israeli law.

But as part of the Zionist push to reclaim God's Promised Land - these young men have set up house
in a cave in the hillside, which even under Israeli law is considered an illegal outpost.

YOSEF: All the land of Israel belongs to us. That's what God gave all of us, all of the land of
Israel to us.

And that's what all the Israeli nation wants. They all want all to build the land of Israel.
They're all Zionists - they came to Israel just to build the land of Israel

ANNE BARKER: So you don't feel you're encroaching on Palestinian land?

YOSEF: No, we know this isn't land that belongs to Palestinians. This land belongs to... There's no
Palestinian who owns this land.

We came here to Israel because God promised the land to us a long time ago. It's not our fault.
They have a lot of... They have 27 other countries they can go, anywhere else.

ANNE BARKER: The expansion of Jewish settlements into the West Bank - illegal or not - is one of
many obstacles to peace between Israel and the Palestinians. But it's an issue on which the United
States is taking a much tougher line than did the former Bush regime.

Barack Obama's Vice-President Joe Biden made it clear last week the US wants settlement growth to
stop.

JOE BIDEN: You're not going to like my saying this, but not build more settlements, dismantle
existing outposts and allow the Palestinians freedom of movement based on their first actions.

ANNE BARKER: But turning the US demand into reality will prove more than a challenge.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has so far refused to commit to stopping the growth of
settlements, or to publicly endorse a two-state solution.

His Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon agrees that Israel is, at least, bound to dismantle
illegal outposts. But even if there are no new settlements, the facts on the ground will make it
impossible to stop their natural expansion.

DANNY AYALON: I don't think it is feasible or it's humanly possible to have a freeze including
natural growth. What happens, you know, so people cannot have their kids there anymore. They have
to add some structure for kindergarten. They cannot do it.

(Sound of Israeli men talking)

ANNE BARKER: For now Yosef and his friends aren't worried.

Like many illegal outposts before them, they're hoping theirs will slowly expand into an approved
settlement, long before Israel strikes any deal to remove them.

EDMOND ROY: Middle East correspondent Anne Barker with that report.