News from Peace Now:

This morning (December 2) a plan for temporary housing on three plots of absentee property near the illegal outpost of Amona was deposited. This was done through a special order - originally used for the Migron settlers - which allows for the promotion of plans in an expedited process. It is now clear that the government is promoting temporary housing for the Amona settlers in the nearby absentee property, despite Israel’s legal interpretation since 1967 according to which absentee property cannot be used for the establishment of settlements.

It is important to note that while the plan is for eight months only, in the settlements what is temporary usually becomes permanent. For example the two year long temporary housing for the Migron settlers from in Givat HaYekev (or the New Migron) is still in place.

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News from Peace Now:
With an expected vote on the regulation bill at the Knesset tomorrow (November 30), Peace Now exposes the scope of construction on private Palestinian lands and the implication of the bill on the two state solution in a new report. 
According to a Peace Now count the regulation law will result in the retroactive legalization of 55 illegal outposts and of approximately 4,000 housing units in settlements and illegal outposts. 

Peace Now views the regulation law as a grand land robbery, which will lead not only to the expropriation of 8,000 dunams of private Palestinian lands but might also rob Israelis and Palestinians of the possibility of arriving at a two state solution. 

To read the full report click here.

Key findings:
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Open Letter to President-elect Donald J. Trump from Jewish American Organizations

Today, APN joined proudly with other Jewish American organizations in sending a letter to President-Elect Donald Trump. The letter lays out many of our concerns and hopes for the coming Administration and sends an unambiguous message about our work for the future: 

“…you will find willing partners in the Jewish community to join with your administration if it follows a path that upholds and defends the principles of fairness, justice and freedom on which this country was built. But, we will not stand idly by if you choose to take actions that violate human rights, or that reverse the progress we have made at home and abroad. You will find us as powerful opponents of any effort to undermine these gains.”

The full text of the letter is copied below. A downloadable pdf version of the letter is available here.

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Peace Now Settlement Watch: Ministerial Committee Approves Regulation Bill

News from Peace Now's (Israel) Settlement Watch:

Yesterday, November 13, the Ministerial Committee for legislation approved the regulation bill, which seeks to retroactively legalize illegal outposts built on private Palestinian lands. According to the bill, private lands taken for the purpose of settlement with the government's involvement will be "leased" to settlers, while Palestinian landowners will receive financial compensation and an alternative land but no right to appeal.
 
The timing of the approval of the regulation bill relates to the pending evacuation of the illegal outpost of Amona, which based on the High Court's verdict must happen by December 25. Earlier today (November 14) the High Court dismissed the state's request to delay the evacuation any further.
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Press Release: With Trump’s Election, We Recommit to Israeli-Palestinian Peace

As Israelis and Palestinians struggle to make sense of this week’s presidential election results, so are we, Americans who support Israeli-Palestinian peace, anxiously wondering about the fate of our mission under President-elect Donald Trump.

The American people have spoken. We at APN obviously acknowledge the results. We doubt, however, that by electing Trump, the people have spoken about their desired foreign policy priorities. Candidate Trump did not clearly indicate such priorities. His foreign policy agenda was sparse and ambiguous, often confused. What will President Trump’s foreign policy be? What will his Middle East Policy be?

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Peace Now Settlement Watch: Update on The New Outpost in the Northern Jordan Valley

News from Peace Now's (Israel) Settlement Watch:

Earlier this week Haaretz reported that a new illegal outpost is being established on private Palestinian land near Givat Salit and near the Palestinian community of Al-Khaimah. Yesterday (25.10) the settlers moved the outpost from the private lands and re-established it on "state lands" in a nearby hill. 

It is yet to be seen whether the government takes action to evacuate the illegal structures or allows for the substantiation of a new outpost.

All of the structures in Al-Khaimah were demolished completely by the Civil Administration approximately a month ago and Peace Now tends to think that the demolition of Al-Khaimah and the establishment of the new outpost are related, in the sense that the settlers exerted pressure on the government to demolish specifically in that area. Furthermore, It is possible that the new illegal outpost is meant to serve as a bargaining chip by the settlers, who will demand demolitions of more Palestinian homes if the government will seek to enforce the law and evacuate them. Peace Now is familiar with at least one case in which this method was utilized by the settlers, when two years ago settlers established an illegal outpost near the settlement of Maskiyot and the Palestinian community of Ain al Hilweh and agreed to evacuate only after several Palestinian homes were demolished. 

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Washington, DC – Americans for Peace Now (APN) denounces a resolution adopted last week by the United Nations’ Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and ratified this week by the body’s Executive Board.

APN agrees with critics of the language used by UNESCO’s resolution, which refers to the Holy Basin in Jerusalem’s Old City only by its Muslim title, the Haram al-Sharif (the Nobel Sanctuary), does not mention the Temple Mount, the way Jews refer to the site, mentions the Western Wall Plaza in quotation marks while using its Muslim name, Al-Buraq Plaza, without quotation marks, and uses other inflammatory language.

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APN’s Lara Friedman to Address the United Nations Security Council on Settlements

Americans for Peace Now (APN) today announced that its director of policy and government relations, Lara Friedman, will be speaking October 14, 2016 before the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) at a special session organized to examine the issue of “Illegal Israeli Settlements: An Obstacle to Peace and a Threat to the Two-State Solution.”

 APN President and CEO Debra DeLee commented:

 “We are extremely proud that Americans for Peace Now has been invited to address the Security Council on the issue of Israeli settlement policies. This is an issue on which APN and our Israeli sister organization, Shalom Achshav, are justifiably recognized as the leading experts, both in terms of knowing and in terms of explaining the facts about settlements and their implications for peace and the two-state solution. And the facts point to a clear conclusion: the Israeli government’s policy of prioritizing settlements threatens the vital interests of Israel – its people and its national future. This Security Council meeting is a welcome opportunity to highlight the damage settlements are doing to Israel and the quest for peace.” 

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APN at the UNSC October 14 - full statement

Statement by Lara Friedman, Americans for Peace Now
Delivered at the United Nations Security Council – October 14, 2016

The full statement can be viewed as a pdf here
Watch the full testimony here
View the post-meeting press conference here.

 

Distinguished members of the Security Council,

As a representative of Americans for Peace Now – an organization that is committed to Israel’s existence and its future – it is not easy for me to speak before this body today.

It is not easy because while this forum will focus in large part on human rights violations by Israel, there are states represented here whose own human rights records are abysmal. There are even states in this forum that still do not recognize the existence of Israel, 70 years after that nation’s birth and despite its membership in the UN’s General Assembly.

It is also not easy for me to speak here today because of the deteriorating political climate in Israel as far as democracy is concerned. For some time now we have been witnessing an ugly campaign against courageous Israeli human rights and civil society NGOs – carried out by reactionary groups in Israel and by the Israeli government itself. Campaigns that target the legitimacy of NGOs like our Israeli sister organization, Shalom Achshav – Peace Now.

These groups are being targeted because their work reveals facts that some prefer to hide – facts that challenge the official Israeli government narrative.

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Peace Now: The 98 Housing Units Promoted Near Shiloh: A New Settlement Indeed

News from Peace Now:

Last Saturday, Our Settlement Watch team exposed that the Civil Administration's Higher Planning Committee promoted a plan for a new settlement east of Shiloh. Today, following the statement issued by the U.S. State Department condemning this development, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued its own statement, arguing that the 98 units that were promoted do not consist of a new settlement and do not expand the Shiloh's municipal boundaries.

These are the facts behind our analysis, which illustrate that this is indeed a new settlement:

1. The driving distance between the new settlement and Shilo is 2km (1km from Shvut Rachel).

2. The Municipal boundary of Shiloh was changed in May 2013 to including this new hill.

3. The fact that an area is included in the municipal boundary of a settlement means nothing about the location of it in or out of the existing settlement. According to our study of the municipal areas of settlements, the built-up area of the settlements takes only 9% of their jurisdiction. In other words, 91% of the municipal boundaries of the settlements is out of the built area of the settlement.

4. According to the protocol of the planning committee which took place last week, the architect who presented the plan said that "in terms of its functioning, the neighborhood could be independent, illustrating that this is a de-facto a new settlement, but the government needs politically to call it a neighborhood for political reasons.

For all of the reasons above, it is clear that the housing units promoted are not an integral part of Shiloh, but rather, a new settlement.

Peace Now's response to the U.S State Department's statement: "two weeks after President Obama approved a $38 billion security assistance package to Israel, Netanyahu chooses to thank him with a slap in face, and to illustrate that his commitment to settlers who stole private lands is more important to him than the true interests of the State of Israel."

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