Peace Now Settlement Watch: Geulat Zion: Another New Settlement

Peace Now reports:

Last night, Channel 2 News reported that Prime Minister Netanyahu intends to argue to American officials that the new settlement for the Amona outpost evacuees should not be considered as such. Yet based on its proposed location, the new settlement, often referred to as “Geulat Zion,” cannot be considered as anything but a new settlement. Geulat Zion is located approximately 2.5 kilometers east of Shilo, on an empty hilltop, and beyond the settlement’s jurisdiction.

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Unraveling the Mechanism Behind Illegal Outposts: A New Settlement Watch Report

Since the mid-1990s, the settlers established nearly 100 illegal outposts and built dozens of neighborhoods and illegal projects in many settlements. In 2015 alone 15% of the units constructed in the settlements was illegal.

During the past year, Settlement Watch conducted extensive research on illegal construction in settlements and outposts. The data collected exposes a process parallel to the official planning process in the settlements – that of illegal construction. This parallel process is what allows for thousands of housing units to remain on the ground, and be connected to roads and infrastructure.

Peace Now's study reveals that three main bodies operate this parallel and illegal process: (1) Settlement Regional Councils, (2) Settlement Division and (3) Amana. The Israeli government enables the illegal system to exist by cooperating directly with these three bodies, by abstaining from law enforcement or prosecution, and by retroactively legalizing the illegal constructions. 

Through this illegal mechanism,  Israeli governments have allowed a small group of settlers to set Israel's settlement policy and thereby determine the future of Israel.

Full report (PDF)

Summary of the report (PDF)

Key Findings:

  • The ten stages of establishing illegal outposts: from paving roads and placing mobile homes to the administration and finance of the illegal outpost.
  • Illegal construction permits issued by regional councils: These permits, referred to as “principle construction permits,” or “temporary construction permits” are meant to mislead a variety of different institutions, so that these are unable to tell that the construction is, in fact, illegal.
  • Illegal construction funding through non-recurring expenses (NRE): NREs are on-time transfers from local authorities to specific projects and are usually nontransparent. Peace Now has managed to uncover that in the years 2000 – 2014, the Binyamin municipality authorized the transfers of over 116 Million NIS to illegal outposts and illegal projects.
  • Amana's accumulation of capital with the help of the Settlement Division, and on the expense of the state and the settlers: The state grants the Settlement Division the authority to manage lands in the Occupied Territories. The Division then allocates lands to Amana for free. Amana builds, sometimes illegally, and sells homes to settlers in prices which embody the cost of the land. While the state does not receive any returns, Amana is making a fortune on the expense of the settlers.
  • Illegal allocation of lands by the Settlement Division: Although the Settlement Division received enormous amounts of lands from the state throughout the West Bank, it allocates to settlers public lands that are not under its supervision. Not only that but the Settlement Division also allocates private lands owned by Palestinians (as in the example of the illegal outpost of Amona).
  • The role of Amana as a settler lobby, a body that is “above the law,” despite many testimonies of illegal activity: Amana acts as the unofficial representative of the settlers, and raises private funding as well as public resources for the benefit of the settlements. Despite many testimonies regarding vast illegal activity, Amana manages, time after time, to avoid prosecution and punishment.

Peace Now Settlement Watch Report: Unraveling the Mechanism behind Illegal Outposts

Since the mid-1990s, the settlers established nearly 100 illegal outposts and built dozens of neighborhoods and illegal projects in many settlements. In 2015 alone 15% of the units constructed in the settlements was illegal.


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During the past year, Settlement Watch conducted extensive research on illegal construction in settlements and outposts. The data collected exposes a process parallel to the official planning process in the settlements – that of illegal construction. This parallel process is what allows for thousands of housing units to remain on the ground, and be connected to roads and infrastructure.

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Peace Now Petitions High Court against Expropriation Law

Israel’s Peace Now movement submitted on March 5th 2017 a petition to the Israeli High Court of Justice against the newly adopted Expropriation Law (also known as the Legalization Law or the Regulation Law), a law that allows the expropriation of privately-owned West Banks Palestinian land for settlement construction.

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Haaretz - Explained: How Big an Obstacle Are Israeli Settlements to Peace?

Trump recently said that advancing settlement construction is unhelpful for peace, but which settlements exactly he was referring to is open for interpretation.

Judy Maltz

If his latest statements are any indication, U.S. President Donald Trump may be having second thoughts about how unharmful Israel’s West Bank settlement project is to the peace process.

In an interview published on Friday with the Israeli daily Israel Hayom, Trump described himself as “not someone who believes that advancing settlements is good for peace,” and urged the government to “act reasonably.”

“There is limited remaining territory,” Trump said. “Every time you take land for a settlement, less territory remains.”

In a statement issued through the White House a week earlier, he said that although settlements per se were not an impediment to peace, “the construction of new settlements or the expansion of existing settlements beyond their current borders may not be helpful in achieving that goal.”

America’s unpredictable new president may be a bit more forthcoming about where he draws the line when he meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday. Meanwhile, his statements have been interpreted as a green light for Israel to continue building within the settlement blocs, though not beyond them.

Settlement blocs refer to the larger Jewish population centers located in the West Bank, many of which are close to the Green Line, or the borders of the 1949 armistice agreement. Many of them fall on the Israeli side of the incomplete separation barrier Israel began building nearly 15 years ago during the second Palestinian uprising.

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News from Peace Now:

Today, January 24 2017, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman issued a statement announcing the promotion of approximately 2,500 housing units in the settlements. This is the largest announcement since U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's negotiations efforts between Israelis and Palestinians.

Peace Now: "Netanyahu is taking advantage of the presidential transition in the United States in order to appease the settlers, a small minority of the Israeli public, and score political points with his right flank. Instead of jeopardizing the two-state solution, it is time for Netanyahu to take responsibility for the future of Israel by halting settlement construction and assuring the future of Israel as both Jewish and democratic."
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 As of April 1, 2017, the up-to-date version of this table is found here

In 2014, opponents of boycotts, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) against Israel began promoting legislation in various U.S. states denouncing the BDS movement. In 2015, these efforts shifted/expanded to mirror efforts in the U.S. Congress to hijack concerns about BDS against Israel in order to pass legislation mandating that Israeli settlements be treated, in effect, as part of sovereign Israel.

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Peace Now Settlement Watch: The New Government Agreement on Amona - Explained

News from Peace Now:

According to media reports, a compromise has been reached between Prime Minister Netanyahu, Naftali Bennett and Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit regarding the relocation of the Amona settlers. The solution agreed between the three, based on media reports, includes the evacuation of Amona and the relocation of the Amona settlers to four plots  (number 28, 29, 30, 38 as can be seen in the map below) in a nearby hill on absentees' property (abandoned property) through a renewable two year lease. These lands are private lands and their use for the purpose of settlement is contrary to previous legal opinions of the State. As shown in previous cases, such as that of Migron, the temporary lease could quickly become permanent and allow for the establishment of a new official settlement on private Palestinian lands. To read a Peace Now position paper on this issue click here.
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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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