|IDF weekend trips hosted by East Jerusalem settlement group|
|By Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz Correspondent|
27 June 2009
ELAD, an organization advocating Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem has led several Israel Defense Forces groups on weekend trips there, and the trips were approved and partially funded by the army.
The trips, which have taken place over the past several months, include tours of Jewish homes in the area and lectures on the importance of Jewish settlement in Arab parts of Jerusalem, participants said.
"From the beginning, it was clear that there was another agenda to the Shabbat," said a battalion commander who participated in one of the trips. "There were multiple comments about how crucial it is to settle in the heart of Arab neighborhoods and how important it is to separate the Temple Mount from the Palestinian parliament in Abu Dis with the settlement of Ma'aleh Hazeitim. They also spoke of the importance of construction in E-1," the corridor between Jerusalem and Ma'aleh Adumim.
Another IDF officer who took part in one of the trips said several participants complained about the controversial political statements made by Elad representatives.
"There were quite a few controversial political statements, which some of the officers complained about, and there was no balance," the officer said.
Elad said it split the cost of the trips with the IDF and that the army's Education and Youth Corps is "responsible for the content" imparted to the troops.
The IDF said it had reached no agreement with Elad, and confirmed that the content was approved by the Education Corps.