APN Statement on Trump's Reaction to Charlottesville Events

Americans for Peace Now is appalled and alarmed by President Trump’s shocking statements yesterday, equating neo-Nazis and white supremacists to progressive demonstrators and equating Robert E. Lee to George Washington. He is completely blurring the lines between right and wrong as he dabbles in the politics of moral equivalence and coddles his racist supporters whose cause is anathema to American values and civil rights.

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Debra Shushan is APN’s New Director of Policy and Government Relations

Americans for Peace Now is pleased to announce the hiring of Dr. Debra Shushan as its Director of Policy and Government Relations, effective August 1, 2017.

Dr. Shushan will be responsible for developing and formulating APN’s policy positions. She will also direct and run APN’s relations with the US government’s executive branch, as well as with Congress.

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Press Release: APN to Trump Administration: Help Prevent Further Escalation in Jerusalem

Alarmed at the flare-up of violence on and around Jerusalem’s Temple Mount / Haram al-Sharif, and extremely concerned about a further deterioration, Americans for Peace Now (APN) is calling on the Trump administration to offer its services to help establish security arrangements in this sensitive spot, which would be accepted and respected by all.

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Press Release: APN Condemns Temple Mount Attack; Urges Calm

Americans for Peace Now (APN) strongly condemns the shooting attack this morning at Jerusalem's Temple Mount / Haram al-Sharif. APN sends its condolences to the families of the two Israeli policemen who were killed in the attack, both Arab Druze citizens of Israel, and wishes full recovery to a third police officer who was injured in the attack.

APN implores the Israeli authorities, the Palestinian Muslim clerics in Jerusalem, the government of Jordan, the Israeli and Palestinian publics, and all other stakeholders in Jerusalem, to do all they can to prevent further escalation in Jerusalem, particularly at this highly sensitive and holy spot, and to respect the sanctity of Jerusalem's holy sites.

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News from Peace Now:

In the coming weeks the Jerusalem regional planning committee will discuss new plans for East Jerusalem, in both Israeli neighbourhood settlements beyond the Green Line and within Palestinian neighbourhoods. (See a full list of plans at the bottom of the report.)

Peace Now: “ The government is brutally attempting to destroy the possibility of the two-state solution, and this time it is by establishing a new settlement at the heart of a Palestinian neighbourhood in East Jerusalem and promoting nearly 1,800 housing units beyond the Green Line. The eviction of 5 Palestinian families, which are protected tenants, in order to establish a new settlement in Sheikh Jarrah shows that nothing will get in the way of settler groups and a pro-settler government from preventing a future compromise in Jerusalem."

A. A new settlement in Sheikh Jarrah

On July 16, the Jerusalem regional planning committee is intended to discuss several plans for settlements within Palestinian neighbourhoods. Of those, 4 plans will be discussed for the Um Haroun neighbourhood (located within Sheikh Jarrah). This is the first time in recent years that new housing units are being planned for settlers within a Palestinian neighbourhood. Furthermore, two of the plans include the demolition of homes of 5 Palestinian families.

Plan 14151: A three story building for 3 housing units. Construction entails the demolition of a home of a Palestinian family.
Plan 14029: A five story building for 10 housing units. Construction entails the demolition of homes of 4 Palestinian families.
Plan 68858: A nine story (seven above ground) Yeshiva campus named, “Or Shameach” that includes student accommodation.
Plan 499699: A six story office building.

The two plans for 13 housing units in Sheikh Jarrah will be established on properties in which 5 Palestinian families currently reside. These properties are under a legal battle through which settlers seek the evacuation of these Palestinian families. Although the Palestinian families are legally regarded as protected tenants they reside in properties that prior to 1948 were Jewish owned, and the Israeli law enables Israeli citizens to return to properties that were owned by Jews prior to 1948. Hence, settlers and settler groups actively attempt to get hold of rights to Jewish owned properties from before 1948. In the cases of the five Palestinian families, the legal actions taken by settlers for their eviction have yet to be materialize. Nevertheless, the law enables landowners to destroy and restructure a new building whilst protected tenants do not lose their legal rights, hence the advancement of these plans.

Click to download the official July 16 agenda (Hebrew).

Click to read background on settlements at Sheikh Jarrah.

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APN Statement Marking 50 Years of Israeli Occupation

Today is the fiftieth anniversary of the Six-Day War, Israel's greatest military victory, a victory that ironically inflicted a political disaster upon the state of Israel.

After fifty years, the disastrous Pyrrhic repercussions of this military victory are intensifying as the occupation of the West Bank solidifies both on the ground and in the minds of many Israelis, Palestinians, and their leaders.

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APN welcomes Trump’s signing of the Jerusalem Embassy Act’s presidential waiver

A semi-annual presidential act, signing a waiver that maintains America’s Israel embassy in Tel Aviv, has become a subject of heated speculation and debate, following Donald Trump’s statements of intent – as presidential candidate and as President-elect -- to move the embassy to Jerusalem.

The statements and the speculations ended with President Trump doing exactly what all his predecessors, Democrats and Republicans, did since Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act in 1995. He signed a presidential waiver, stipulating that the embassy will remain in Tel Aviv for six more months.

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Peace Now Settlement Watch: Jurisdiction of The New Settlement "Amihai" Approved

News from Peace Now:

On Sunday (28/05/17), the head of the Central Command signed a military order defining the jurisdiction to a new Israeli settlement in the West Bank, the first to be established since 1992. The decision to establish the new settlement, which will go by the name “Amichai”, was made by the government on March 30th as compensation to the evacuees of the Amona outpost, which was built illegally on private Palestinian land and was evacuated in February this year following a verdict of the Supreme Court. Apart from cases of retroactive legalization of illegal outposts, this is the first settlement that the government of Israel is establishing since 1992.
 
Several publications have indicated that on June 7th the sub-committee for settlements of the Higher Planning Committee in the Civil Administration is expected to meet in order to advance plans for settlements. Due to vast pressure coming from settler lobby groups, it is possible that during this meeting, the plan for the settlement will be discussed for depositing. In addition, it is likely a plan to retroactively legalize the Kerem Reim outpost, and expand it to 255 housing units, will be discussed for validation (final approval) during the committee’s meeting.
 
Amichai is the second settlement that is being established as compensation for the Amona evacuation. In February this year a plan for new settlement called Shvut Rachel East, was approved for validation. The plan, number 205/3/1, enables the construction of the first 98 housing units in Shvut Rachel East, which is planned to eventually become a settlement of 300 housing units. While Shvut Rachel East should be referred to as a new settlement by all means, it is officially referred to as a neighborhood of Shilo settlement, despite being located far from any built up area of Shilo, creating a new and distant expansion to the settlement.

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Donald Trump just ended a 28-hour visit to Israel and the West Bank that was rich with color, atmospherics, symbolism and lofty talk about prospects for peace and commitment to peace, but appallingly short on content. During his Middle East tour, President Trump did not refer even once to the two-state solution, and said almost nothing about what Israelis and Palestinians must do in the short run to prepare the ground for future peace. 

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Peace Now Settlement Watch: In Contrast to The Declared Policy – Another Outpost Legalization

In Contrast to The Declared Settlement Policy – Israel Retroactively Legalizes Another Illegal Outpost, Thus Establishing another New Settlement

On 7 May 2017, the objections subcommittee of the Civil Administration’s High Planning Committee decided to reject objections to the plan to retroactively legalize the illegal outpost of Kerem Reim (Also known as Nahlei Tal, located West of Ramallah). The objections were discussed almost three years ago, in August 2014, but a decision has only been made this week. The fact that it took the subcommittee three years to make this decision illustrates the involvement of political echelons both in the stopping of the plan in the past and in its current promotion.

Another Proof of No Restraint and No New Settlement Policy
 
On 30 March 2017, Prime Minister Netanyahu announced a new settlement policy in a cabinet meeting. PM Netanyahu proclaimed that as a part of this policy no new illegal outposts will be established, and no retroactive legalizations of illegal outposts will take place. The decision to promote the plan for the illegal outpost of Kerem Reim stands in direct contradiction to the new declared policy. The promotion of the plan is a part of a process of establishing a new settlement in the West Bank by retroactively legalizing the illegal outpost, which was established in 2012.

The Illegal Outpost of Kerem Reim and The Plan for Its Retroactive Legalization
 
In 2012, a new illegal outpost named Nahlei Tal (later changed to Kerem Reim) was established West of Ramallah. Several mobile homes were put in place, roads were established illegally, several families moved in and connected to infrastructure – of course – illegally. The mobile homes were placed on “state lands,” while some of the roads and infrastructure were on private lands. Nahlei Tal or Kerem Reim was the first outpost established since 2005, after the Sharon government committed not to build any new illegal outposts, and during the period of the Sasson Report and Peace Now’s petitions to evacuate illegal outposts.

Shortly after the establishment of the illegal outpost, on 9 May 2013, the Defense Minister approved the promotion of a plan for 255 housing units in order to retroactively legalize the illegal outpost as a neighborhood of the Talmon settlement. The plan was approved for depositing and published for objections, and in August 2014 a hearing took place, during which residents of Al-Mazra'a al-Qibliya – the village which lands were taken by the outpost – voiced their objections together with Bimkom. Since then the plan had been frozen until this week.

During 2016, massive foundations work began to take place at the illegal outpost for the purpose of constructing permanent homes. All of this was done illegally, without the plan being approved and without the government approving the establishment of a new settlement.
 
A Peace Now study found that among those involved in the establishment of the illegal outpost, beyond the small group of settlers that established it, are the Benjamin Regional Council as well as the Amana organization. After exposing the illegal construction work Peace Now demanded form the Attorney General the opening of an investigation against those responsible for the illegal construction. After months without a reply, Peace Now submitted a petition to the High Court of Justice, demanding an investigation on the matter and asking to stop the illegal construction. On 9 April 2017, the High Court issued a temporary stop work injunction, prohibiting any construction work in the outpost as long as the petition is ongoing.

Apparently, due to the petition, the government decided to promote the plan in order to argue at the High Court that there is no need to enforce the law on the illegal construction, as it will soon be approved. An official response by the state to the High Court should be submitted by May 30 2017.
 
It is important to note that even if the plan will be approved, the illegal activity conducted up until this point cannot be ignored, and this is what Peace Now seeks to achieve in its petition. It is through this type of illegal activity – that proceeds in the settlement enterprise without any law enforcement – that a small group of settlers determines Israel’s settlement policy and influences the future of both Israelis and Palestinians.

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