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Daily Archives: 10/23/2010

Photostream : Cholera outbreak in Haiti

Victims and families wait at a medical facility in St. Marc, northern Haiti. Health Minister Alex Larsen has warned that the cholera outbreak blamed for 135 deaths is the most lethal strain of the disease, October 22, 2010. (AFP/Thony Belizaire)

A boy suffering from cholera sleeps while waiting for medical treatment at a local hospital in the Marchand Dessaline zone, about 36 km … Read more » (22 miles) from the town of Saint Marc, October 22, 2010. REUTERS/St-Felix Evens

Victims and families wait at a medical facility in St Marc hospital for treatment north of Port-au-Prince. The deadly cholera outbreak in Haiti is likely to get much worse, health experts said as relief supplies were rushed to the quake-stricken country in a struggle to ward off an epidemic, October 22, 2010 (AFP/Thony Belizaire)

Children suffering cholera symptoms receive serum at a hospital in Marchand Dessalines, Haiti, Friday Oct. 22, 2010. An outbreak of cholera in rural central Haiti has killed at least 142 people and sickened hundreds more. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

A Haitian resident suffering from cholera is helped by a relative while he waits for medical treatment at a local hospital in the Marchand Dessaline zone, about 36 km (22 miles) from the town of Saint Marc, October 22, 2010. Quake-hit Haiti and its aid partners fought on Friday to stem a cholera epidemic that has killed over 150 people and sickened hundreds, with experts saying more cases could be expected before it was contained. REUTERS/St-Felix Evens

A woman suffering cholera symptoms rests in a stretcher outside a hospital as she waits to be admitted in Saint Marc, Haiti, Friday Oct. 22, 2010. An outbreak of cholera in rural central Haiti has killed at least 142 people and sickened hundreds more who overwhelmed the hospital in Saint Marc seeking treatment. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

Haitians suffering from cholera wait for medical treatment with their relatives at a local hospital in the town of Saint Marc October 22, 2010. Quake-hit Haiti and its aid partners fought on Friday to stem a cholera epidemic that has killed over 150 people and sickened hundreds, with experts saying more cases could be expected before it was contained. REUTERS/St-Felix Evens

Haitians suffering from cholera wait for medical treatment with their relatives at a local hospital in the town of Saint Marc October 22, 2010. Quake-hit Haiti and its aid partners fought on Friday to stem a cholera epidemic that has killed over 150 people and sickened hundreds, with experts saying more cases could be expected before it was contained. REUTERS/St-Felix Evens

A man suffering from cholera symptoms lies in the hospital in Marchand Dessalines, Haiti, Friday Oct. 22, 2010. An outbreak of cholera in rural central Haiti has killed at least 142 people and sickened hundreds more. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

People watch a US missionary doctor, who did not want to be identified, confirm the man lying in the bed died of cholera outside a hospital before being transported home in the town of Droin, Haiti, Friday Oct. 22, 2010. An outbreak of cholera in rural central Haiti has killed at least 142 people and sickened hundreds more. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
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The Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) volunteers on standby near Mt. Merapi

A view of the Mount Merapi volcano emitting smoke from the village of Boyong, in the district of Sleman, central Java October 23, 2010. Indonesia's Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation Center on Friday increased the volcano's alert status to the second highest level following its increasing volcanic activities, according to local media. (Getty Images / REUTERS/Dwi Oblo )

October 23, 2010 (KATAKAMI / THE JAKARTA POST) — The Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) has posted 175 volunteers to areas near Mount Merapi following to a recent alert status declared by the Volcanic Technology Development and Research (BPPTK) Yogyakarta.

“We have to be ready whenever the disaster hits us. We have to train local residents to remain calm and do what they need to do,” Klaten regency PMI officer Ahmad Dahlar said on Friday as quoted by Kompas.com.

Since it was declared under alert status on Sept. 23, 2010, Mount Merapi has continued to show increasing volcanic activity.

According to head of the BPPTK Yogyakarta, Subandrio, Merapi, which borders Yogyakarta and Central Java provinces, has been changing form as a result of pressure from its magma fluid, which is seeking a way out.

WikiLeaks data shows U.S. failed to probe Iraqi abuse cases

The Al-Jazeera television channel website, containing news coverage on secret US documents obtained by WikiLeaks, is seen on a computer screen at a cafe in Silver Spring, Maryland, on October 22, 2010. At least 109,000 people were killed, 63 percent of them civilians, in Iraq between the US-led invasion of March 2003 and the end of 2009, Al-Jazeera on Friday reported secret US documents obtained by WikiLeaks as saying. (Photo : JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

October 23, 2010 (KATAKAMI / Reuters) – WikiLeaks released nearly 400,000 classified U.S. files on the Iraq war on Friday, some detailing gruesome cases of prisoner abuse by Iraqi forces that the U.S. military knew about but did not seem to investigate.

The Pentagon decried the website’s publication of the secret reports — the largest security breach of its kind in U.S. military history, far surpassing the group’s dump of more than 70,000 Afghan war files in July.

U.S. officials said the leak endangered U.S. troops and threatened to put some 300 Iraqi collaborators at risk by exposing their identities.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said the documents showed evidence of war crimes, but the Pentagon dismissed the files as “ground-level” field reports from a well-chronicled war with no real surprises.

“We deplore WikiLeaks for inducing individuals to break the law, leak classified documents and then cavalierly share that secret information with the world,” Geoff Morrell, Pentagon press secretary, said.

The Iraq war files touched on other themes, including well-known U.S. concerns about Iranian training and support for Iraqi militias. The documents, which spanned 2003 to 2009, also detailed 66,081 civilian deaths in the Iraqi conflict, WikiLeaks said.

Assange told Al Jazeera television the documents had provided enough material for 40 wrongful killing lawsuits.

“There are reports of civilians being indiscriminately killed at checkpoints … of Iraqi detainees being tortured by coalition forces, and of U.S. soldiers blowing up entire civilian buildings because of one suspected insurgent on the roof,” WikiLeaks said in a statement.

In one 2007 case, according to the documents, an Apache helicopter killed two Iraqis suspects who had made signs that they wanted to surrender. The document said, “They can not surrender to aircraft and are still valid targets.” It can be seen here: here

Although the Iraq conflict has faded from U.S. public debate in recent years, the document dump threatens to revive memories of some of the most trying times in the war, including the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal.

CRACKED RIBS AND EXECUTIONS

Those media organizations given advance access to the database — 10 weeks in one case — broadly concluded that the documents showed that U.S. forces had effectively turned a blind eye to torture and abuse of prisoners by Iraqi forces.

In one case, an Iraqi policeman shot a detainee in the leg. The suspect was whipped with a rod and hose across his back, cracking ribs, causing multiple lacerations and welts.

“The outcome: ‘No further investigation,'” the Guardian wrote.

The documents also cited cases of rape and murder, including a videotaped execution of a detainee by Iraqi soldiers. That document can be seen here: here

The New York Times said that “while some abuse cases were investigated by the Americans, most noted in the archive seemed to have been ignored.” It said soldiers had told their officers about the abuses and then asked Iraqis to investigate.

Amnesty International condemned the revelations in the documents and questioned whether U.S. authorities had broken international law by handing over detainees to Iraqi forces known to be committing abuses “on a truly shocking scale.”

“These documents apparently provide further evidence that the U.S. authorities have been aware of this systematic abuse for years,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s director for the Middle East and North Africa.

The document release could also renew debate about foreign and domestic players influencing Iraq, which has been in a political vacuum since an inconclusive election in March.

Military intelligence reports released by WikiLeaks detail U.S. concerns that Iranian agents had trained, armed and directed death squads in Iraq, the Guardian reported.

It cited an October 31, 2005, report stating that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps “directs Iranian-sponsored assassinations in Basra.”

The U.S. envoy in Iraq said in August he believed groups backed by Iran were responsible for a quarter of U.S. casualties in the Iraq war.

More than 4,400 U.S. soldiers have been killed since the start of the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. All U.S. forces are set to withdraw from Iraq by the end of next year.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev To Host Fresh Armenian-Azerbaijani Summit

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (right) welcomes Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan, Serzh Sarkisian (left) and Ilham Aliyev, to St. Petersburg in June.Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (right) welcomes Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan, Serzh Sarkisian (left) and Ilham Aliyev, to St. Petersburg in June.

 

October 22, 2010 YEREVAN (KATAKAMI / RFERL.ORG) — The presidents of Russia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan are to meet next week for talks on resolving the long-standing dispute over the region of Nagorno-Karabakh, RFE/RL’s Armenian Service reports.

The office of Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian said today he would meet Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in the southern Russian city of Astrakhan on October 27.

The last such trilateral meeting was held in St. Petersburg on June 17.

The enclave within Azerbaijan, populated mainly by ethnic Armenians, was at the center of a war between the two countries that ended with an uneasy cease-fire in 1994.

Palestinians urge water strategy

Palestinian National Authority Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad attends the joint signing of the Declaration of the Mediterranean Climate Change Initiative at the resort hotel of Vouliagmeni near Athens on October 22, 2010. ( LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP/Getty Images)

October 22, 2010 (KATAKAMI / FRANCE 24 / AFP) – Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayaad on Friday called on the international community to help find a solution to the difficult access to water in the occupied territories.

More should be done for the Palestinians to have access to the available resources respecting international rules on the sharing of water resources, Fayaad said after Mediterranean countries signed a declaration on the fight against climate change in the region.

“Obviously, this is a challenge, an effort that must be made within the framework of the political process to settle the problem but a solution must be found to make water more available” for the Palestinians, he said.

Fayaad said that “less than 10 percent of the (Palestinian) population has access to drinking water in Gaza”.

“Israël takes 90 percent of the water and leaves us with only 10 percent,” he added.

“Our situation is particularly difficult, our problems are real, water consumption is below the average recommended by the World Health Organization.”

The regional conference on climate change in the Mediterranean which is also attended by Israel was called at the invitation of Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou ahead of a UN summit in Cancun November 29 to December 10.

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PM Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Conference on the Future of the Jewish People at the Israel Museum

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a speech during a conference on the Future of the Jewish People in Jerusalem on October 22, 2010. (Getty Images / AFP PHOTO/GALI TIBBON )

October 22, 2010 (KATAKAMI / PRIME MINISTER’S OFFICE) — Natan Sharansky is a hero of the Jewish people.  He is also a great chess player, and of course I raise that because, aided by the late Tommy Lapid, I played with him the only game of chess – after the age of 15 – before the elections of 1999, I tied.

I quit – in full glory.

I have not played another game, until recently with him against Boris Galfand.

We almost won – no, wait, we tied.  A great hero of the Jewish people in many ways and important ways.

It’s very good to be with all of you – Stu, a very thoughtful, committed thinker about our problem, the Jewish problem.

And there are so many others here, close friends who, under the important work of Avinoam, bring together people who are thinking about the future of the Jewish state and the Jewish people, and they are inextricably bound.

I don’t think there’s a future for the Jewish people without a future for the Jewish state.  But I think the future of the Jewish state is important, is inextricably bound also with the commitment of the Jewish people to the nation-state of the Jews.

I want to thank you all for dedicating your valuable time, for considering the ways to enable the Jewish people to address the great challenges that we face in the first part of the 21st century.

At the end of the 19th century, there was a visionary who decided to dedicate his life to that very same purpose.  Theodore Herzl saw the downtrodden condition of the Jewish people; he saw the storms that were gathering against them; and he laid out a clear path that he believed would enable them to weather the storms and direct their destiny to safer shores.

Herzl was right about many things.  He was right about the need for a Jewish state and the need for a Jewish army to defend the state – like all states – against impending attacks.  He was right about the dangers that loomed on the horizon.  He was right that the restoration of the Jews, of Jewish sovereignty, in the Holy Land was not merely an age-old fantasy, but a practical goal that could be achieved in the present.  But Herzl, I think, was too optimistic about the impact that the Jewish state would have on anti-Semitism.

He believed that the rebirth of the Jewish state would gradually put an end to anti-Semitism, and many of the early Zionists enthusiastically agreed with him.  They thought that the establishment of a Jewish state would be an antidote to the age-old hatred of the Jews.  And the irony is that over a century later, many now believe that the Jewish state is the cause of that hatred, and of course both these views are wrong.  The Jewish state is neither the cause nor the cure for anti-Semitism.

The establishment of Israel and the remarkable return of the Jewish people to their homeland did not end hatred towards the Jews.  It merely redirected it.  The old hatred against the Jews as a people has been transformed into a new hatred against the Jewish state.  In fact, the decades following the Holocaust, during which it was unacceptable to say certain things about Jews, can now be clearly seen as a notable exception, rather than a new norm.  Over the last few decades, we have witnessed a return of that phenomenon that long marked our history: the demonization of Jews, the singling out of Jews, the denial of rights to Jews and Jews only.

What was once true of the Jewish people is now true of the Jewish state.  In too many quarters in the international community, Israel is guilty until proven guilty.  But while the Jewish state did not end the hatred towards the Jews, it provided the Jews the means to defend themselves against that hatred, and after 2,000 years of powerlessness, after being subjected to every evil under the sun, the Jews now have the power to defend themselves, and this remains the single greatest transformation of the Jewish condition in modern times.

That is why the key to securing the Jewish future is to secure a strong Jewish state.  When planning for the coming decades, we have to recognize the great dualism that marks our national life in Israel.  It’s a dualism of remarkable progress and extraordinary threats.  We live under a dual existence.  Israel’s achievements in the last 62 years are truly breathtaking.

We are a global leader in high technology.

Our scientists win Nobel Prizes.

Our innovations in agriculture and medicine, in water and energy, in countless other fields, are changing the world.  They are in every continent and many of the instruments that we use in modern life, especially in communication, in a lot of the medicines we take that cure illnesses – many of them originate in Zion and in Tel Aviv.  And beyond science and technology, Israel is a fount of artistic creativity, with one of the most vibrant and dynamic societies on the globe.  This is the positive side.

At the same time, and this may heighten the achievements that I’ve just described, we are a tiny country that faces threats not faced by any other nation.  There is a sovereign nation not far from here that is developing nuclear weapons, atomic bombs, openly calling for our destruction, calling for wiping us off the map.  Its terror proxies work every day to advance that goal.  These threats have been heightened considerably by an unlikely coalition that has brought together the forces of militant Islam with morally confused fellow travelers in the free world, and both forces work to deny Israel the most elementary rights to defend itself.

The former works with missiles and suicide bombers; the latter through misnamed bodies like: the “UN Human Rights Commission”, the “UN Human Rights Council”, and their attempts to abuse the International Court of Justice.  In the face of these challenges, we have to strengthen and accelerate Israel’s progress, and we have to reduce the threats it faces.

A key to Israel’s progress is to continue to free Israel’s economy and unleash the remarkable talents of our people.  If Israel is to remain strong, defense costs money – a lot of money.  And it’s going to cost more and more and more money.  There is no way that Israel can meet the collective needs of its defense without unleashing its individual talents.  The only way, if I can speak from a collective point of view, that we can meet our defense needs – and they are growing and they will grow more and more and more – is to have a remarkably entrepreneurial society.  And if we are to remain strong in the global market, we have to be more competitive.

It’s not only defense that we have to fund.  We have to fund education, and we have an aging population.  That’s a blessing.  We have one of the longest living populations in the world, and that needs a lot of money.  It required, for example, pension reform – that we did.  You heard of something that is going on in a certain country in Europe?  Raising the retirement age from 60 to 62?  We raised it to 67 – I think we’re number one in the world.  Why?  Because we recognize there’s no other way – no other way to fund our future.  And as someone who led that reform, I can tell you, it’s not easy.  But we did many, many, many other reforms, all clustered together.  I always thought as Finance Minister that it makes sense to maximize the number of reforms per national strike.

We have to have this growth to fund education, to fund our society, to fund our elders, to fund our defense.  And we have done this.  We have changed this country.  If you came here 15 years ago, it was a different country.  If you’ll be here 15 years from now, it will be a different country.  It used to be the country of that joke, you all know it: how do you make a small fortune in Israel?  You come with a big fortune.  Well, no longer.  And the great challenge we have is to have people come with no fortune, who are here with no fortune, but they better themselves because we give them a good education.  And then they can open up a small business, and that business can grow and become a great business.  That’s the challenge.

By the way, there is no other way to ensure a growing economy in the world.  I’ve heard of the various theories that speak of the decline of entrepreneurship and initiative.  There is no other way to stimulate economies.  We’re doing that, and we’re very consistent, although we are part of a global economy.  So our economic fortunes not only depend on us, they depend on the world.  But what depends on us, we have to do, and we are going to do it.

The other key to maintaining our strength is to maintain and strengthen our identity, both inside and outside of Israel.  Because I think that if we know our past, we strengthen our commitment to our common future.  This is why I initiated the Heritage Plan, to strengthen identity within Israel, but also to bring in Jews from all over the world, especially young Jews, to partake in our common heritage which began here and continues here.  And that is why I’ll continue to support programs like Birthright and MASA that have connected an entire young generation of Jews with the State of Israel.

These are great missions: to continue and strengthen our progress as one of the world’s most advanced societies.  But equally, we have to work together to reduce the threats we face.  Israel must do what it can to roll back the dangers of militant Islam, and at the same time to seize any opportunity to advance a secure peace.  Both of these tasks are extremely difficult.  Iran is vying for the leadership of militant Islam.  It continues on its path towards developing nuclear weapons and its bid for regional hegemony.  In addition to its threats to annihilate Israel, and its denial of the Holocaust, Iran is confronting the United States in Afghanistan and Iraq; it is taking over Lebanon; it is dominating Gaza; it is establishing beachheads in Arabia and in the Horn of Africa; and it sends its tentacles into South America as well.

This is what Iran is doing without a nuclear weapon.  Imagine what it will do with one.  Imagine what its proxies will do under a nuclear umbrella.  The international community, led by the United States, must constantly make clear in both word and deed that it will not permit Iran to develop nuclear weapons.

Advancing a secure peace is equally difficult.  After 17 years of failure, people should be careful about assuming they have discovered a magic formula for instant success.

See, I believe that peace is possible, but it must be based on a readiness for mutual compromise – not just the Israeli side making compromises, but the Palestinian side making some fundamental compromises as well.

If we are to succeed, we must apply the lessons learned from the decade that saw a wave of terrorism and thousands of rockets – twelve thousand rockets actually – fired on our citizens.

For me, the two most important lessons are these: first, only when our peace partners are willing to recognize the legitimacy of the Jewish state will they truly be prepared to end the conflict and make a lasting peace with Israel; and second, only by having effective security arrangements on the ground, will Israel be able to defend the peace.  And in our part of the world, the only peace that holds is a peace we can defend.  Peace can also be unraveled.  I often point out that we had peace – extraordinary relations – with two countries that we had trade relations with, security contacts, even military cooperation with one, the meeting of leaders, we even had 400,000 tourists go to one each year – that was Iran, and second is regrettably Turkey, and I hope we can improve our relations with Turkey.

The establishment of a formal peace treaty does not guarantee that the peace will last.  You need security arrangements for two purposes: one, to ensure that the peace lasts; and second, to protect yourself if it doesn’t.  In order to protect yourself, you have to ensure that we don’t have a repeat, for the third time, of a situation where we left, we vacated territory and Iran walked in.  It walked into Lebanon, it walked into Gaza.  We cannot allow Iran to walk into the hills dominating Tel Aviv and encircling Jerusalem.  Because that will not merely mean the end of peace, it could put a strategic threat on the future of the Jewish state.

The conclusion I reach is not that we should not advance towards peace.  It is that that peace arrangement must have, built into it, arrangements on the ground – concrete security arrangements that prevent this mistake from reoccurring a third time.  I believe that this is the central expectation of the people of Israel who have suffered after great hopes – despite international guarantees, despite promises to the contrary – from the lack of such security arrangements and the lack of such stringent demands of our peace partners to begin a change and recognize the State of Israel and end the conflict with it.

As all of you know, Israel has a unique political system where one hears many different voices, official voices, about the prospects of peace, about what such a peace might look like and about many other things.  But while I will continue to listen carefully to all these views, I am leading Israel down the path I believe in.  I know there will be many bumps on the road, many obstacles to overcome, but I am confident that by uniting around our legitimate and necessary demands for mutual recognition and security, I think we can increase greatly the chances that we will achieve an historic compromise with our neighbors.

I would ask all of you today to help me forge that unity, both inside and outside Israel.  The more our people speak with one voice about these principles that I think we can unite on – I think we must unite on – the more that voice will be heard clearly throughout the world.

This was very much the view of Herzl, who wanted to have a united voice – it didn’t always succeed – not only about the dangers facing Zionism, but the dangers facing the world.  That was true of Herzl and even more true of his great partner, Max Nordau.  Nordau was one of the greatest thinkers of the late 19th century, and for a decade he was one of the dominant intellectuals of the West.  The great American writers of the early 20th century who speak of him, speak of what a great influence he had on them.  But Nordau was not successful in his great book, “Degeneration”.  He spoke about the impending rise of totalitarianism, of fascism and communism and what this will do to the world – not only to the Jews.  He joined Herzl because he believed the Jews have to save themselves against these forces, but he was unable to alert the world to the danger, and the rest is history – world history and our history.

Today we’re in the beginning of the 21st century, and we have to alert the world to the dangers that we face – not only that we face, but that the world faces.  And the dangers Israel faces is not from the rise of China and India, it’s not the danger that America faces either, or the West as it’s commonly known.  That is not the great danger.  I don’t think it’s a danger at all.  The great danger is the fact that wedged right between East and West is the rise of radical Islam that knows no bound: to its ruthlessness and to its acquisition of the weapons of mass death, without any inhibition to their use.  This is new.  This is new in history, because in previous generations it was impossible to acquire a capacity for great destruction and sustain it for any length of time without having an advanced civilization.

Now, primitive societies, barbaric societies, societies that, in the beginning of the 21st century, enslave women, mutilate them, deny human rights to their own citizens, promote terror worldwide and promote the most absurd doctrines – these societies can acquire nuclear weapons, missiles, rockets.  This is new and this is a great, great danger to East and West alike.

I think it is important that we speak together with one voice while we advance our society and make it a model country.  While we seek to pursue peace – a realistic peace, a secure peace – with our neighbors, we must also warn the world, East and West, about the danger to our common future of modernity and to our common civilization.  This is how I think the Jewish people and the Jewish state can truly be a light unto the nations.

Thank you very much.



Abbas and Saudi king discuss stalled peace talks

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (R) speaks to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Riyadh October 22, 2010. (Getty Images / REUTERS/Saudi Press Agency/Handout )

October 22, 2010 (KATAKAMI / FRANCE24 / AFP) – Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas held talks on Friday with King Abdullah that focused on the stalled peace process with Israel, the official Saudi news agency SPA reported.

They discussed “developments in the Palestinian issue and efforts exerted to put the peace process back on the right path,” it said.

The two leaders also discussed the “need for the international community to assume responsibility to achieve a just and comprehensive peace that would guarantee the Palestinian people’s right to establish its independent state on its national soil, with Jerusalem as a capital,” it added.

Abbas left Riyadh on Friday afternoon, the agency added.

A Palestinian diplomat in Riyadh told AFP Thursday that Abbas’s visit “comes at a critical stage in the negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis.”

The diplomat pointed to Israel’s refusal to extend a moratorium on Jewish settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem that expired on September 26.

On October 9, foreign ministers of the Arab League, in which Saudi Arabia plays a leading role, said they would wait one more month to see if the direct peace talks can be restarted.

Since the settlement moratorium ended, Jewish settlers have begun building at least 600 homes, a pace four times faster than before the freeze began last year, the Israeli activist group Peace Now said on Thursday.