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.

Peace Now Settlement Watch: Possible Critical Developments in East Jerusalem

News from Peace Now:

Last week, several press reports have suggested that the government is preparing to advance 15,000 new housing units in three Israeli neighbourhood-settlements at East Jerusalem. According to the publications, the plans are for the establishment of a new neighbourhood at Atarot (10,000 housing units), expanding Ramat Shlomo (3,000 housing units) and establishing Givat Hamatos (2,000).

Peace Now is deeply concerned regarding the possible development in Givat Hamatos in particular, which is the most immediate, and will pose a serious threat for a compromise in Jerusalem based on the Clinton Parameters, and thus for the possibility of a two state solution.  

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Press Release: APN to Trump: Get Serious about Peace, and We'll Support You

In his meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas today, President Trump vowed to work with the leaders of Israel and the Palestinians to broker peace. "We will get this done," Trump declared.

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APN Welcomes Washington's Endorsement of Dissenting Israeli Organizations

Secretary_Tillerson320x265Washington, DC - Americans for Peace Now (APN) commends Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and his staff for acknowledging the important role that Israel’s civil society and particularly Israeli progressive non-profit organizations play in Israeli society.

At his daily press briefing yesterday, State Department Spokesman Mark Toner was asked about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s scandalous decision Tuesday to cancel a planned meeting with Germany’s foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel because of Gabriel’s meeting with representatives of three progressive Israeli nonprofits that regularly criticize Israeli government policies. The three organizations are Peace Now (APN’s Israeli sister-organization), Breaking the Silence, and B’Tselem. 
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Peace Now Settlement Watch: A New Outpost Is Being Built East of Ramallah

News from Peace Now:

For maps and pictures see here: http://peacenow.org.il/en/new-outpost-adam 

Peace Now has learnt that presently a new outpost is being established. The outpost is located beyond the fence surrounding Adam settlement (aka Geva Binyamin), southeast from Ramallah and beyond the Separation Barrier.
 
This is the first outpost that is being established since the Israeli government declared a new policy towards settlement construction. The policy stated that settlement construction would be limited to within the “built up area” or "the footprint" of a settlement and that creation of new illegal outposts would be prohibited. Needless to say is that by being constructed outside the fence of Adam, the new outpost is not only a new outpost, but also beyond the “built up area” of the settlement, regardless of the lack in a clear definition to what “built up area” means.

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Peace Now Settlement Watch: The New Declared Settlement Policy - Not a Restraint at All

News from Peace Now:

Israeli media reports that yesterday’s government decision included not only operative steps to expand the settlements (i.e, establish a new settlement, publish tenders for 1,992 housing units, and declare 977 dunams as state land for the retroactive legalisation of 3 illegal outposts) but rather also a new government policy towards the building of settlement units. The new policy would enable continuous expansion of all settlements, without any limitations, contrary to how the government is trying to frame this.
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Press Release: APN to Trump: Don't be Netanyahu's April Fool on West Bank Settlements

Americans for Peace Now (APN) joins its Israeli sister organization Peace Now (Shalom Achshav) in condemning the Israeli government's decision to establish a new settlement in the West Bank, to publish tenders for some 2,000 new homes in West Bank settlements and to take measures that would allow for the retroactive legalization of three outposts built illegally, without initial government approval, in the West Bank.

APN also joins Peace Now's condemnation of the Israeli Cabinet's new policy of so-called "restraint," which in practice would allow it to continue with its unhindered expansion anywhere in the West Bank, including settlements adjacent to the Green Line ("settlement blocs"), more distant settlements, and East Jerusalem.  

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Statement on David Friedman's Confirmation as Ambassador to Israel

The U.S. Senate today confirmed, by a very narrow margin, the nomination of David Friedman to be America’s ambassador to Israel. 

Americans for Peace Now (APN) strongly opposed Friedman’s confirmation and worked hard to thwart it.

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