Netanyahu and Trump Fail Again to Provide Hope for Peace

Washington, DC – Commenting on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to Washington, his meeting with President Trump, and his speech at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference today, Americans for Peace Now's President and CEO Debra DeLee issued the following statement:

"Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu again missed an opportunity to offer Israelis, Palestinians, Americans, and the world a shred of hope for peace.

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From Peace Now's Settlement Watch:

Today, 12 February, the Settlement Subcommittee of the Higher Planning Committee of the Civil Administration convened to discuss a series of new plans in the settlements. Among other things, the committee approved the establishment of a new, “temporary” settlement for the evacuees of Nativ Ha’Avot. The committee also  approved 68 new housing units in the settlement of Elazar, the construction of a hotel in the Jordan Valley with 120 rooms next to a motor park and Tourist Area, and the construction of a cemetery near an industrial zone planned for the construction south of Qalqiliya. A further plan for an educational campus in the illegal outpost of Mitzpe Danny was discussed but the subcommittee has postponed its decision to a later date.

Peace Now: “The government is building new settlement areas under the guise of “insignificant” plans that will not include housing units. This is an old trick used to establish new settlements without calling them that by name. All of these plans—the construction of a hotel and tourist complex in the Jordan Valley, an educational campus in an illegal outpost, and even a cemetery as the first stage in the construction of a new industrial zone—in actuality create new settlements. The Netanyahu government has lost all the brakes on the road to de facto annexation of the West Bank, and it continues to distance Israel from the prospects for peace and the two-state solution.”
 
Details:
Some of the programs that appear on the committee’s agenda are plans for small changes in old plans without the addition of housing units; however, there are other politically significant plans that will create new settlement areas, as enumerated below. These additional plans blatantly contradict the declared policy of the Netanyahu government itself, which committed to limiting construction to the “built-up area” within settlements, and to holding hearings on plans for new housing units only four times per year (the previous hearing was just last month, on 10 January 2018):
 
1. Plan No. 404/1/6/5 (approved for validation) – a plan for the construction of 68 new housing units in the Elazar settlement near Bethlehem. The plan was approved for deposit on 17 January and was today approved for validation. It should be noted that the land concerning this plan was once privately owned by Palestinians but was seized for military use in the 1970s and now is being used for civilian settlement.
 
2. Plan No. 405/11 (Part 91) (approved for validation) – the establishment of a new, “temporary” settlement for the families whose homes are slated to be demolished in the Nativ Ha’Avot outpost according to the High Court of Justice’s 2016 ruling. The plan was approved for deposit on 17 October 2017 and was deposited for objections one month later. Last week, the subcommittee for objections within the Higher Planning Committee discussed the objections that had been submitted by Palestinian landowners from Al-Khader and Peace Now. Following these objections, the subcommittee decided to reduce the number of housing units from 17 to 15, but chose to reject the objections and to recommend approval of the plan. In the hearing today, the committee approved the establishment of the settlement, even though the subcommittee for objections admits that the plan is not appropriate, as it explains: “Although the professional authorities do not dispute that from a planning point of view, this is an unusual plan.”

To read the Peace Now objection, click here.

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Press Release: APN Exhorts Trump Administration to Shut Down Israeli Moves toward Annexation

Americans for Peace Now (APN) exhorts the Trump Administration to make clear to the Israeli government, in the strongest possible terms, that annexation of any portion of the West Bank is completely unacceptable to the United States. 

According to comments made by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday, his government has been engaged in discussions with the Trump Administration “for some time now” regarding annexation. This marks the first time Netanyahu has indicated his support for settlement annexation. His statement appears to have caught the White House by surprise and elicited a denial from an administration spokesman that the US had discussed an annexation proposal with Israel. While an Israeli official agreed that the US had not given its approval to any of the various annexation bills up for consideration by the Knesset, that official clarified that Israel has kept the White House briefed on the Knesset bills.

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Press Release: APN Launches 2018 Israel Fact-Finding Tour

 

Last year, Americans for Peace Now (APN) cancelled its annual fact-finding mission to Israel and the West Bank due to Israel's newly adopted "Entry Law," which bans from entry into Israel non-citizens associated with groups calling for boycotts.

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APN Condemns Murder of Rabbi Ben-Gal, Calls on Leaders to Halt Violent Escalation

Americans for Peace Now condemns in the strongest possible terms the murder of Rabbi Itamar Ben-Gal, who was stabbed to death outside the West Bank settlement of Ariel. A teacher and father of four, Ben-Gal was a resident of the settlement of Har Bracha outside Nablus. A Hamas spokesman praised the killing as “a continuation of the resistance to Trump’s Jerusalem declaration.”

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Pence's Israel Visit Panders to Evangelicals; Further Damages US Role as Peace Broker

There is no reason to rejoice in Vice President Mike Pence's visit to Israel, which commenced yesterday and will continue through tomorrow. It is clear that Pence has come to Israel to pursue his own domestic political agenda, cynically politicizing the US-Israeli relationship to pander to his evangelical Christian base.

In his speech to the Knesset, Pence told Israeli lawmakers that "America stands with Israel." While the US-Israel bond is vital, so are the building blocks on which that bond is constructed.

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APN Encouraged by Growing Opposition to Kenneth Marcus Senate Confirmation

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions yesterday voted narrowly to confirm Kenneth Marcus as Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in the Department of Education. The vote took place along party lines. Americans for Peace Now (APN) applauds members of the committee who opposed Marcus's confirmation and welcomes opposition to the appointment by a steadily increasing number of organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

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Trump Policy Triggered Incendiary Abbas Speech, PCC Statement

The Chairman of the PLO and its Central Council over the past couple of days nullified the Oslo Agreements, conditioned recognition of Israel on Israeli recognition of Palestinian sovereignty, shunned the Trump Administration as a peace broker, and announced they would seek further recognition in international fora.

The Palestinian Central Council (PCC) statement followed an inflammatory and unconstructive speech by Palestinian Authority President and PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to the Council in Ramallah on Sunday.

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Bidding Farewell to Avi Buskila

Americans for Peace Now joins its Israeli sister organization Peace Now (Shalom Achshav), Israel’s preeminent peace movement, in bidding farewell to Avi Buskila, Peace Now’s departing director general, who has decided to venture into politics and run for the leadership of the progressive political party Meretz.

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APN Condemns Murder of Settler, Warns Against Settlement Construction as Revenge

Washington, DC -- In the strongest possible terms, Americans for Peace Now condemns the murder of Rabbi Raziel Shevach, which occurred yesterday in the West Bank outside Nablus. According to news reports in Israeli media, Shevach was shot by an unidentified attacker who fired on his vehicle from a passing car. We note that Hamas’s military wing, while not taking responsibility for the shooting, praised the killing as “heroic” and a sign of future attacks to come. Islamic Jihad also welcomed the attack.

With great concern, we are following developments in the wake of Shevach’s killing. Israel’s right-wing politicians are shamelessly exploiting this deplorable act with calls for settlement construction, making clear that they intend to use settlement building in the Occupied Territories as a means to punish Palestinians. Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman has also ordered his agency to examine the possibility of legalizing Havat Gilad – the illegal outpost near Nablus where Shevach lived, parts of which are built on private Palestinian land.

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