Beitar Ilit is already home to more than 20,000 settlers. The extension of the settlement would make it part of the Gush Etzion settlement bloc.
US President George Bush has warned Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon against further settlement expansion in the West Bank.
The expansion also contravenes commitments made by Israel under the US-backed roadmap peace plan.
Here's an article from yesterday's Daily Star by Yossi Alpher, a senior adviser to former Israeli PM Ehud Barak, who argues that Israel's settlement policy has proven largely counterproductive to Israel's genuine security. Alpher does pose an intriguing question, though:
Did the spread of settlements, particularly in the West Bank, constitute a factor in the PLO's decision in 1988 to negotiate a two-state solution - in the sense that, if Palestinians had waited much longer there would have been little left to negotiate? This is an intriguing theory that could, in a sense, justify the construction of settlements retrospectively at the strategic level.
But by the same token, the more the settlements continue to spread today in the West Bank, the more the moderate Palestinians are beginning to argue that they will soon preclude any possibility of separating the two peoples into two separate states. The day that viewpoint again becomes official PLO policy, the settlements will indeed cease to be a main focus of violence because, thanks to them, the green line will no longer function as a border and Palestinian violence will be directed indiscriminately at all Israelis.
In this context, some opponents of disengagement argue that the West Bank mountain heartland settlements, as an expression of the right of the Jewish people to live in the cradle of biblical Hebrew civilization, are worth any security price. However, from a national Jewish standpoint, this can only be termed a suicidal approach.
Also related, an article from the San Francisco Chronicle regarding Israeli efforts to prevent Jewish immigration into Germany:
The Israeli government, concerned about the declining number of Russian Jews emigrating to Israel, has persuaded Germany to institute unprecedented measures restricting the influx of Jews from the former Soviet Union, according to several Israeli officials.
Prompted by an intense behind-the-scenes lobbying campaign waged by Israel, new immigration rules would grant residence only to Jews from the former Soviet Union who are under 45, fluent in German and financially stable. The rules, announced late last month, do not include Jews from other non- Soviet countries or any other ethnic or religious group. They are expected to take effect at the beginning of next year.
Israel has long been concerned about diaspora Jews emigrating to anywhere but Israel.
Is this is ironic, or just tragic? Israel pressures Germany to prohibit the immigration of Jews to Germany in the hopes that those Jews will then decide to immigrate to Israel and strengthen Jewish numbers vis a vis non-Jewish residents of Israel-Palestine, helping to counter the demographic threat posed by a growing Arab population and maintain Israel's integrity as Jewish state. Get your head around that.
Even more troubling is the fact that many of new immigrants to Israel will be provided incentives to move into West Bank settlements. Contrary to what some believe, the majority of settlers are not religious fanatics, but economically disadvantaged Israelis, many of them recent immigrants, who are induced to move to settlements through massive government subsidies.