Tomorrow the Jerusalem Local Planning Committee is expected to approve the construction of a large building for settlers in the heart of the Batan Al Hawa neighborhood in Silwan. The three story building will be located in one of the most densely populated areas in East Jerusalem, near the Yonatan House (see map). The land in the area was sold to the settlers by the Israeli General Custodian without any tender, together with three additional parcels in the neighborhood (Parcels 73, 75, 84, 97). The pretext for selling the land to the settlers was the fact that they already own two other parcels in Batan Al-Hawa (parcels 95-96) that were released to them by the General Custodian in September 2002 (see more here)

Peace Now: While PM Netanyahu and MoD Lieberman just backed the two state solution, on the ground they are supporting actions that are making a future compromise much more difficult. They government can still prevent the construction of the house by withdrawing from the deal of selling the four parcels to the settlers. By approving the construction on the Eve of Ramadan Netanyahu and Lieberman risk igniting the region and compromising Israelis' security for the benefit of extreme settlers.

Silwan-parcel73-map
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Americans for Peace Now (APN) today sounded the alarm over the imminent appointment of Israeli serial provocateur and extremist firebrand Avigdor Lieberman as Israel’s new Minister of Defense. APN's President and CEO Debra DeLee commented: 

“Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is today once again showing the world that he puts politics and personal political survival above the national security of Israel and its people.

“Avigdor Lieberman has a long and ugly track record of irresponsible, reckless, and deliberately inflammatory rhetoric and actions. As foreign minister in Netanyahu’s previous government, he caused severe damage to Israel’s foreign interests, creating crises in Israel’s relations with regional and global allies.

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Earlier this week the Palestinian Media reported on a new expropriation order in the lands of the village of Al-Zawiya. This order was published based on the State's most recent publication procedure of the Blue Line Team's work. 

While the original declaration in this area included 1,264 dumans, the current order, following the work of the Blue Line Team, adds another 115 dunams that are now declared as state lands. The order also deducts 213 dumans that are no longer considered as state lands, and yet 30 of the 213 dunams have already been expropriated for the purpose of the "Cross Samariah" highway.
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APN Condemns Terrorist Attack on Jerusalem Bus

Washington, DC – Americans for Peace Now (APN) unequivocally condemns today's bombing of a bus in Jerusalem, in which 21 people have reportedly been wounded, two of them severely.

APN stands with our brothers and sisters in Israel. We reiterate that attacks such as this are completely unjustifiable, and they are antithetical to the pursuit of a just, peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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Newsflash: Peace Now Exposes Netanyahu's Deceit; Makes a Difference

Peace Now’s Settlement Watch project reported this week that Benjamin Netanyahu’s government approved construction of hundreds of new homes in West Bank settlements, and is accelerating the pace of planned building in the settlements. Peace Now’s data was based on info obtained from the High Planning Council for Judea and Samaria, the government agency responsible for construction licensing and planning in West Bank settlements. The data showed that this year’s numbers (January through March) were higher than the equivalent period last year.

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Yesterday it was published that the High Planning Committee of the Civil Administration advanced plans in different stages for over 200 units in the settlements after receiving a green light to do so from the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defense. This is another indication of a shift away from the so-called "planning freeze" of 2015. For a list of all plans approved in 2016 click here.

While the government issued a statement arguing that all of the plans advanced were for already existing buildings except from those in Ganei Modi'in, Peace Now's aerial photos illustrate that this is not the case, and much of the planning is for new housing units.
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Advancement of Plans for Housing Units in the Settlements up by 250% in the First Quarter of 2016 Compared with the Same Period Last Year

While the government's declared policy in the settlements is that of a "planning freeze," during January-March 2016 plans for 674 housing units in the settlements were advanced (all over the West Bank and particularly in isolated settlements), as opposed to 194 housing units in the same period last year. 
 
During 2015, plans for 1,665 new housing units were promoted (1,044 of them were retroactively legalized after having been built illegally and without a plan). This number constitutes a substantial decrease from 2014, during which 8,606 new housing units had been promoted (801 of which retroactively legalized). The figures of the first quarter of 2016 illustrate an upturn in the approval of plans, and sharply increase the total number of units promoted by the current Netanyahu government. Additionally, as illustrated by the numbers above, while the government states that it currently approves plans for already existing construction only, in reality in 2016 only 26% of the plans advanced constituted retroactive legalizations (compared with 63% in 2015).

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Peace Now Settlement Watch: Government declares another 596 dunams as state land

The Palestinian News agency Ma'an reported yesterday that the Civil Administration issued a new order determining state land boundaries in the settlement of Eli. 
The order is a result of the work of the Civil Administration's Blue Line Team which works to correct inaccurate state land declarations made during the 1980s. According to the new order, 2,781 dunams of the lands of the villages Lubban al Sharqiya, Karyut and Al-Sawiya are now considered state lands, 596 dunams of which were not considered state lands according to the old declaration. Additionally, 590 dunams were detracted from the old declaration.
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Peace Now Settlement Watch: The government declares 2342 dunams south of Jericho as state land

The Army radio exposed today that on March 10, 2016, during Vice President Biden’s visit to Israel, the Civil Administration’s Head of the Government Property signed a declaration according to which 2,342 dunams (580 acres) south of Jericho are now government property. This declaration of state land comes two months after the Minister of Defense approved a declaration of 1,500 dunams as state lands in an area south of Jericho. It appears that the January approval by the MoD permitted the land declaration which is now being implemented. However, the size of the land declared is larger than what was published in January and includes 2,342 dunams. The declaration, which is in fact a confiscation, was meant for the expansion of nearby settlements as well as for trade and tourism projects operated by the settlers. This is one of the largest declarations in recent years, and it is another illustration of the government’s policy of land confiscation, including those far beyond the green line and the separation barrier.

 
Peace Now: This declaration is a de-facto confiscation of Palestinian lands for the purpose of settlement. Instead of trying to clam the situation, the government is adding fuel to the fire and sending a clear message to Palestinians, as well as to Israelis, that it has no intention to work towards peace and two states. Netanyahu proves yet again, that settler pressure is more important to him than the deteriorating security situation.

 

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APN Outraged at Violent Escalation in Israel

Washington, DC – Americans for Peace Now (APN) is outraged and heartbroken at the spiraling violence in Israel today, a day in which Israelis were shaken by three terrorist attacks. In one of these attacks, in Jaffa, a young American tourist was murdered and his wife severely injured.

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