Voice from the Commonwealth Commentary, World Views and Occasional Rants from a small 'l' libertarian in Massachussetts
"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest for freedom, go home and leave us in peace. We seek not your council nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." - Samuel Adams
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Israeli military clearance of Jewish settlements in the West Bank is now well underway as part of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's commitment to the international 'road map' for an Arab-Israeli peace agreement. While clashes between troops and settlers have occurred on several of the smaller, isolated sites, to date the violence has not been serious. However, Israeli security services have privately expressed concern that as the clearance programme pushes on toward larger settlements, Jewish right-wing extremists might resort to armed resistance or terrorism.
Many of the newer West Bank settlements are manned by small groups of ultra-radical Jews often dubbed 'hilltop youth'. Mainly young, second-generation settlers, this so far little known faction has been the focus of a recent study funded by the Research & Development Centre Samaria & Jordan Rift and the Faculty of Jewish Studies at the Bar Ilan University School of Education. This and other studies have concluded that the 'hilltop youth' movement could be key in Israel's internal political struggle over the implementation of the international road map. Israeli authorities harbour concerns that clandestine networks within this movement may resort to terrorism in response to further settlement clearances.
Meanwhile, Israeli security services continue to monitor the threat from existing Jewish radical groups such as Kach and Kahan Chai, who may also conduct major terrorist attacks aimed at completely wrecking the road map. The US State Department lists both of these groups as foreign terrorist organisations.
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