News from Peace Now's (Israel) Settlement Watch:
Two important settlement developments in this update:
1. Appointed Attorney General proposes to confiscate private Palestinian lands for settlements
2. A new settlement established south of Bethlehem
On December 31st, the State responded to a petition filed by Peace Now and Palestinian landowners demanding to
evict 17 houses that were built on private Palestinian land at the Derech Ha'Avot Outpost. In the response, the
State says that the Attorney General (Yehuda Weinstein) had rejected the proposal to legalize the houses suggested
by a committee headed by the Cabinet Secretary Avihai Mendenblit, and asked the court for more time to
Three days after the State submitted its response, the Government approved the nomination of Avihai Mendenblit as the new Attorney General and he is supposed to take office on February 1st, 2016.
Mendenblit's committee suggests to use a "re-parcellation" procedure (AKA "unite and divide") which unites a few parcels together and enables to swap lands between owners. This way the settlers would receive the Palestinian land and the Palestinian owners will be compensated with adjacent lands. This is actually a de-facto confiscation, and a confiscation of lands for the use of the occupiers is a clear violation of the International law.
If accepted, this re-parcellation idea will allow settlers to build everywhere, regardless of the ownership of the lands, knowing that in any case, even construction on private lands could be legalized. This will pave the way not only to retroactively approve many outposts and settlements but also for an unlimited expansion of settlements throughout the West Bank.
Yesterday (January 6th) Haaretz exposed that the "Beit Al-Baraka" compound near the Al-Aroub Refugee Camp has officially been added to the Jurisdiction of the Gush Etzion Municipality, and had become an official new settlement.
This new settlement, approved by the Minister of Defense at the request of the settlers, is a dramatic and
a. The establishment of a new settlement by the Israeli government is a blatant violation Israel's commitments starting from the Oslo Accords and the Road Map and contradicts the government's declared support of the two states solution.
b. The new settlement is an enclave located in a Palestinian area intended to expand the Gush Etzion bloc further to the south, beyond the planned route of the Separation Barrier.
c. The new settlement will create a severe security risk increasing the friction between settlers and Palestinians and may require the mobilization of permanent military forces to the area.