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Lots of work for settlement 'spy'

Israel announced a $11,400 grant this month to induce young settlers to move to the West Bank.

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Dror Etkes slows to a near halt on a winding dirt road deep inside the West Bank, the battlefield of his nonshooting war against the Israeli government's settlement drive.

"I wrecked two cars [on rough roads] last week and I don't want to wreck another one," explains Israel's only settlement spy, who carries out his surveillance on behalf of Israel's dovish Peace Now movement.

Mr. Etkes parks outside the outpost known as Givat Ha Roeh. Outposts are settlements considered illegal not only by international law as all Israeli settlements in the occupied territories are, but also by Israeli law since they never received cabinet authorization.

According to an international peace blueprint, the road map, Givat Ha Roeh should have been dismantled, but it is getting bigger. Digging of foundations into the hill beneath existing trailers is under way, and pipes and metal sheeting are spread nearby. Etkes calculates that six new houses will be built on the spot, permanent housing for residents of the trailers.

Using a camera, a plane, and old fashioned sleuthing techniques, Etkes arguably knows more about the settlements than all but a few individuals in the government and the top settler leadership. He documents their daily expansion, which he says has intensified over the last few months. It is a job that makes him a traitor to some right- wingers but popular among US diplomats who report home on the settlements.

Dore Gold, an adviser to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, takes issue with Peace Now's criticisms. "Israel has taken down a number [of outposts] and will take down more. In the meantime we are waiting for the Palestinian Authority to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure, which they have not even begun to do."

A road map challenge
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