Peace Now Settlement Watch: Establishing a New Settlement in Hebron - More Information Revealed

Following our exposure regarding the possible establishment of a settlement in Hebron's "Plugat Hamitkanim" military base, below is new information uncovered in the past 24 hours.  

1. It appears that former Defense Minister, Moshe Ya'alon, approved the allocation of a portion of the land where the military base is located to the Ministry of Housing. The Housing Ministry is now preparing a plan to build 28 housing units in the area. If implemented, the plan would increase the number of settlers in Hebron by approximately 100 (an increase of over 10% to the settler population in the city). The planning process at the Civil Administration's High Planning Committee has not yet begun.

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Peace Now Settlement Watch: Settlers' Residence Being Prepared in a Hebron Military Compound

Summary:
  • Renovations are currently taking place in the military compound of "Plugat Hamitkanim" in Hebron, in order to prepare the area for the residence of settlers.
  • This area, which used to serve as Hebron's central bus station, was seized through a military order during the 80's. By law, and according to a High Court verdict from 1979, it is forbidden to seize lands for military needs and then use them for the purpose of settlements.
  • Having residential housing in a military base also contradicts the principle of distinction between civilians and combatants, and constitutes a clear violation of International Humanitarian Law. Thus, the plan is to deduct a portion of the land seized for military purposes and allocate it for the purpose of a settlement. While the seizure order will be lifted, this constitutes a bending of the law mentioned above for the benefit of settlers.
  • This portion of the land used to be under Jewish ownership prior to 1948 and was leased to the Hebron municipality by the Jordanians. The status of Hebron municipality is of protected tenancy and therefore, until now, the Israeli legal opinion was that the land cannot be taken from the municipality other than in the pretext of military use.
  • In addition, allocating lands belonged to Jews before 1948 to settlers  is practically an implementation of the "right of return" for Jews only and on the expense of the protected Palestinians tenants.
  • In a letter to the Defense Minister and to the Head of the Civil Administration, Peace now demanded to prevent the establishment of this New settlement in Hebron.
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Peace Now Settlement Watch: Land Expropriation Advanced for a New Settlement on JNF Lands

In the State's response from August 10, 2016, to Peace Now's High Court petition, the State notified the court that it is currently conducting a land survey in order to declare "state lands" south of Bethlehem, near the village of Nahla. A declaration as such, combined with the allocation of a small portion of the state lands in the area for the purpose of a road, will enable to connect the planned settlement of Givat Eitam to the settlement of Efrat. This connection will then allow for the establishment of the Givat Eitam settlement, also known as E2 due to its dire consequences on the two state solution. While the state lands in Givat Eitam have not yet been allocated for the construction of the planned settlement, the government intends to initially build the new settlement on the 300 dunams owned by Himanuta, a subsidiary of JNF. 

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Washington, DC – Americans for Peace Now (APN) joins its Israeli sister organization, Shalom Achshav (Peace Now) in strongly condemning the Israeli government’s decision to take over West Bank Palestinian absentee land east of the Palestinian city of Ramallah, apparently in order to relocate Israeli settlers who have been evacuated from the illegal outpost of Amona. 

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This morning an ad was published in Al-Quds Newspaper on behalf of the Custodian's Office which is responsible for government and abandoned property announcing the takeover of absentees' land near the illegal outpost of Amona. It can be assumed that the takeover's purpose is to allow the relocation of the settlers of Amona from the land they are currently occupying to a nearby plot. Those who claim ownership of the land can submit their objections within the next 30 days.

Earlier this month, this relocation idea was raised by the regularization committee, a committee established by the government to find a solution for the illegal outposts issue. On August 7, 2016, the Attorney General, Avichai Mandelblit, stated that he will consider the option of moving Amona to a nearby absentees' property despite "weighty legal issues." 
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The Attorney General, Avichai Mandelblit, stated yesterday (August 7, 2016) that he will consider the option of moving Amona to a nearby absentees' property despite "weighty legal issues." The option was proposed to him by a committee established by the government to find a solution of the illegal outposts issue. Approving the committee's legal opinion will consist of a sharp change of Israeli policy thus far, and contradict decisions of the Supreme Court, according to which private land cannot be used for the purpose of settlements. Such an approval will expose Israel to lawsuits and create a precedent that could lead to the doubling of the land taken up by settlements.

Peace Now: "The Attorney General is signaling that he is willing to approve the stealing of private lands of absentees for settlers who themselves stole private lands against the law. The extrapolation of the AG approving this option is that from now on, absentees' property could be leased to the settlers, despite of the fact that these are private properties. The government's willingness to politically compensate the settlers of Amona, who settled on private Palestinian land, is leading to devastating consequences on the ground and to the distortion of Israel's moral and legal systems."

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The Legal Opinion Submitted to the Attorney General
on Amona: a Crossing of a Red Line

Amona-wikimedia-320x265This morning the Army Radio reported that the committee established by the government to find a solution of the illegal outposts issue recently submitted a legal opinion to the Attorney General according to which it is possible to use the absentees’ property in the case of the illegal outpost of Amona. The committee’s idea is to take private Palestinian lands in the nearby plot to where Amona is today, whose owners do not live in the West Bank, and lease them to the settlers of Amona through a lease that will be renewed every three years. This way, the settlers of the illegal outpost, which must be evacuated by the end of December due to a High Court ruling, will be able to live close by to where the outpost is located today. AG Avichai Mendelblit will soon announce whether he intends to accept or reject the legal opinion.
 
Peace Now: "Accepting the legal opinion of the committee and thereby violating private property rights in the Occupied Territories will constitute the crossing of a red line. The acceptance of the legal opinion would have dire consequences on a future peace agreement as it could lead to the establishment of dozens of new settlements and to the multiplying of the land taken up by settlements in the West Bank. The Israeli government cannot justify the stealing of private lands of absentees only to please the demands of settlers who themselves stole private lands against the law."

 

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Peace Now Settlement Watch: Tenders Published for 323 Housing Units in East Jerusalem

This morning, tenders for 323 housing units in East Jerusalem were published:

89 units in Gilo
36 units in Neve Yaacov
68 units in Pisgat Zeev 
130 units in Har Homa
 
These tenders are for housing units that have been tendered in the past but were never built (the tender in Gilo was published without dates and details so we cannot tell if these are new units or units that were tendered before). Although the government tried to build these units in the past, it never did so and thus the government is now initiating entirely new construction.
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APN on the JCPOA at One Year: A Clear Win for Both the U.S. & Israel

Secretary_Kerry_greets_Iranian_Foreign_Minister_Zarif474x531This week, on the first anniversary of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Americans for Peace Now (APN) celebrated the achievement of this historic deal – a deal that has already proven itself by radically rolling back and limiting Iran’s nuclear program. 

APN President and CEO Debra DeLee commented:

“We reiterate today our thanks and congratulations to President Obama and his P5+1 partners – France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Russia, and China – on this historic agreement and its ongoing implementation. A year on, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) has proven itself a clear win for the American people, for U.S. leadership, for U.S. national security and, we believe, for Israel. Already this agreement has dramatically and verifiably rolled back Iran’s nuclear program, stringently limited Iran’s ongoing and future nuclear activities, and taken off the table what pre-JCPOA was the looming threat of Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon in the foreseeable future.  The implementation of the JCPOA also ensures that, where in the past the U.S. and international community had very limited means to monitor Iran’s activities, today, should Iran decide to break the terms of the deal and try to ‘sneak out’ to a nuclear weapon, there is a far greater chance such an effort would be detected and the U.S. and its allies would be in a far stronger position to respond effectively.

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APN condemns new anti-democratic Israeli law

Israel’s Peace Now Movement to Challenge New NGO Law before Israel’s Supreme Court 

Washington, DC -- Americans for Peace Now (APN) joins its Israeli sister organization, Peace Now (Shalom Achshav) in strongly condemning the new NGO Law, adopted last night by the Knesset, as a blatant violation of freedom of expression. APN supports Peace Now’s intention to challenge the new law before Israel’s Supreme Court. 

As Peace Now points out, this law is tailored specifically to target only peace and human rights organizations. It intends to divert the Israeli public discourse away from the occupation, and to silence opposition to the government's policies. 

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