Fact Checking Netanyahu’s November 10 Statements on West Bank Settlements

NetanyahuHands350x224Speaking at Washington’s Center for American Progress, Prime Minister Netanyahu was asked about his government’s West Bank settlement construction policies. His replies were littered with falsehoods and misrepresentations. 

Here are the facts:

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Rejecting any claim that settlements play a part in the current violence, Netanyahu has adopted data showing he's built less than his predecessors. But don't believe the statistics.

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Netanyahu’s (Real) Settlement Record

Jointly authored by Lara Friedman, APN (USA) and Hagit Ofran, Peace Now (Israel)

Defenders of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu have seized on a recent report in Haaretz to argue that Netanyahu’s record shows that he has, in fact, been less pro-settlements than his detractors (including Peace Now) have suggested. Their argument hinges on a single statistic raised in that story: the average number of construction starts in settlements per year, as counted by the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics (ICBS), across the 6 years Netanyahu has been in office, compared to that same number for previous prime ministers over the past 20 years.  But as is often the case when it comes to statistics, the devil is in the details, and a single statistic taken in isolation will always obscure more than it reveals.

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Peace Now Settlement Watch News Flash: Settlement-Related Updates Amidst Violence and Tensions

Following the increase in violence attacks and tensions between Israelis and Palestinians we wish to highlight two settlement-related updates with significant short and long term consequences on the reality on the ground:
1. Netanyahu announces intention to build bypass roads in the West Bank (our estimates and a case study of the Lieberman Road showcasing the impact of bypass roads on settlement development)

2.  Pending violent eviction of a Palestinian family in Silwan

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Wild Settlements

The murders of toddler Ali Dawabsha and his father Saed generated an uproar. The fire set to the house in the Palestinian village of Duma with its dwellers inside, led to the death of two and the mortal injury of two others. However, this horrid act was not committed in a void. Since 1999, when the illegal outposts began appearing in the nearby “Shiloh Valley,” the region has undergone a process of increased Israeli control and Palestinian ousting.

This objective is often achieved through violence as a political tool for altering the status quo in favor of the settlers. This process is made possible, inter alia, by the fact that the region is a lawless area. Throughout the years, wild outposts’ settlers have enjoyed ongoing support from the authorities, whether by act or omission: a local authority allocating financial support, government offices build and provide infrastructure, enforcement agencies avoid enforcing the planning and construction laws, security forces do not only protect illegal outpost settlers but also help them remove Palestinians from the farmlands, even when it is their personal land. Changes in this area in the years after the wild outposts were established demonstrate that the settlers’ presence in the area leads to ongoing thievery and acts of violence.


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Peace Now - Settlement Watch News Flash: Advancement of 1065 Housing Units in the Settlements

The sub-committee for settlements of the higher planning committee of the military’s Civil Administration met yesterday to discuss 15 plans, at various planning stages and in different settlements. In total, the committee discussed plans that regard 1,065 housing units. Of these housing units, the plan approved 541 new housing units, retroactively legalized 228 existing housing units, and approved the development of infrastructure for a plan that consists of 296 housing units, while further approval will be needed before construction of the housing units can begin.

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Peace Now News Flash: The Ramat Shlomo Plan is to get the Final Green Light

Shalom Achshav, APN's sister organization in Israel, reported:
The Jerusalem District committee for Construction and Planning will convene on Wednesday, 6/5/15, to approve Plan no. 11085 for the construction of 1,531 housing units in Ramat Shlomo. The plan was called "The Biden Plan" when during the visit of Vice President Biden in Jerusalem, on March 2010, the plan was approved for depositing by the planning committee
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It is safe to say that in the past two years construction starts for approximately 5,000 housing units took place in the settlements. This huge jump in construction starts took place, according to the CBS, mainly in the beginning of 2013, whereas in Peace Now’s data it was reflected only in 2014.

On March 10, 2015 the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics (ICBS or CBS) published the number of construction starts for 2014. According to the CBS, 1,344 new housing units started to be built in the settlements in 2014 and 2,829 units in 2013. Peace Now, who conducted a count of all construction starts based on aerial photos, reported a higher figure for 2014 (3,100 housing units) and lower one for 2013 (2,243 housing units). So how much was actually built?

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Peace Now Releases Settlement Construction Report

Peace Now's annual construction report reveals substantial increase in construction starts, planning and tenders – specifically in isolated settlements and in the most disputed areas in terms of the chance for two states. To download the full report click here.
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Yesterday, the Israeli police arrested three suspects for using forged documents to purchase lands from Palestinians in the West Bank. The police investigation began following a complaint by Peace Now and Palestinian land owners during the High Court petition against the illegal outpost of Migron,after the settlers had provided forged documents to the court. This complaint, together with other cases in which settlers used forged documents to purchase lands in illegal outposts, resulted in a police investigation, leading to yesterday's arrests.

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