Minister Yaalon Is Acting as the Minister of Settlements - Details behind today's Haaretz article

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An article in today's Haaretz reports on recent data released by Israel's Ministry of Defense regarding some of the actions taken under the current Minister of Defense, Moshe Yaalon, to promote settlements. The data covers only the first four months of Yaalon's tenure in office (mid-March through mid-July 2013). As we observed when the new Israeli coalition was announced, "the Minister of Defense...is effectively the reigning sovereign in the West Bank...In the new coalition, that position will be held by Moshe Ya'alon (Likud-Beiteinu), who has been a strong ally of the settlers."

As noted in the Haaretz article, this data was released following a request by the Israeli Peace Now movement under Israel's Freedom of Information law. Following publication of the Haaretz article, Peace Now released further information and analysis regarding the Ministry of Defense data, examining what it means both on its own and in combination with data covering July 2013 through the present. The text of that reports is included below. The full report, which includes a table laying out all the approvals (both those in the Ministry of Defense data and those in the period not covered in that data) can be viewed/downloaded here.

Full details behind today's Haaretz article:
Data Confirms that Minister Yaalon Is Acting as the Minister of Settlements
December 3, 2013

Six months ago, Peace Now sent a letter to the Ministry of Defence requesting data regarding all settlement-related plans promoted by Minister of Defence Moshe Yaalon. Peace now requested this information under Israel's Freedom of Information law.

Last month, Peace Now received a response, as reported in today's Haaretz.

The data Peace Now received from the Ministry of Defence, which has now been analyzed, is limited to the period from November 2012 through July 2013. Analysis of this data, combined with data collected by Peace Now regarding the period covering July 2013 through the present, offers a comprehensive understanding of what was and is being promoted in the settlements by the Minister of Defence.

Specifically:

  • The official data received from the Ministry of Defence reveals that from March 18 - mid-July, 2013, Minister Yaalon promoted settlement plans for the construction of 3,604 housing units, under various plans.
  • This number includes Minister Yaalon's initial approval when a plan was initiated (in the table below, recorded in the column entitled, "Defence Minister's Approval"), as well as approvals at subsequent stages of the planning process, each one of which also falls under Minister Yaalon's authority (in the table below, recorded in the columns entitled, "Discussion for Depositing," "Published for Deposit," "Discussion for Validation," and "Published for Validation").
  • This official data, combined with data collected by Peace Now pertaining to the period of mid-July 2013 through the present, reveals that since being sworn in as Minister of Defence, Minister Yaalon has promoted settlement plans for the construction of a total of 8,394 housing units.
  • In addition, since taking office, Minister Yaalon has also issued tenders for 1,457 settlement housing units in the West Bank (the Peace Now information request did not extend to information about tenders; this information comes from Peace Now data collection from public sources).
  • Note: No East Jerusalem settlement activity is included in the Ministry of Defence data, since promotion of plans and issuing tenders in East Jerusalem falls under the responsibility of the Jerusalem Municipality, not the Minister of Defence. East Jerusalem settlement activity for the period of March 18, 2013 through the present comprised the issuance of tenders for 2,015 housing units and the promotion of 2,422 housing units in various plans.

Commenting on the data, Lior Amihai, Acting Head of Peace Now's Settlement Watch stated:

"The Defence Minister has become a rubber stamp of the Yesha Council of the Settlements and settlers. Despite attempts to conceal most of the information, we were able to uncover a wave of construction authorizations by means of the Freedom of Information Law, as well as plans for almost 9,000 housing units in nine months.

"Behind the scenes, the Minister of Defence and the Minister of Housing and Construction are continuing to promote construction plans which, if they are fully realized, will change the map of the West Bank significantly. The Prime Minister must instruct his ministers to stop advancing the plans."

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