On May 19, 2016, the Executive Committee of APN's Board of Directors unanimously adopted the following policy regarding ongoing efforts in the U.S. Congress and in various state capitals to pass legislation dealing with BDS and the occupation.
As published May 9th in
Haaretz following Peace Now's investigation, construction of a huge structure referred to as the “Amana House”
has recently started in Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem. The structure is intended to serve as an office building
for the Amana association - a private entity operating toward establishing and expanding settlements and
responsible for many of the illegal outposts in the Territories. The structure is being built within the
Palestinian neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, and is adjacent to St. Joseph Hospital, which serves the
Palestinian population of Jerusalem and the West bank.
Construction of the settlement is supported by a wide array of governmental institutions, headed by the Israel Land Authority (ILA). The ILA, in an illegal and misleading procedure and without a tender, expropriated private Palestinian land and handed it over to Amana, a right-wing, pro-settler organization that is politically and ideologically affiliated with the right-wing government.
While the original declaration in this area included 1,264 dumans, the current order, following the work of the Blue Line Team, adds another 115 dunams that are now declared as state lands. The order also deducts 213 dumans that are no longer considered as state lands, and yet 30 of the 213 dunams have already been expropriated for the purpose of the "Cross Samariah" highway.
While the government issued a statement arguing that all of the plans advanced were for already existing buildings except from those in Ganei Modi'in, Peace Now's aerial photos illustrate that this is not the case, and much of the planning is for new housing units.
The Army radio exposed today that on March 10, 2016, during Vice President Biden’s visit to Israel, the Civil Administration’s Head of the Government Property signed a declaration according to which 2,342 dunams (580 acres) south of Jericho are now government property. This declaration of state land comes two months after the Minister of Defense approved a declaration of 1,500 dunams as state lands in an area south of Jericho. It appears that the January approval by the MoD permitted the land declaration which is now being implemented. However, the size of the land declared is larger than what was published in January and includes 2,342 dunams. The declaration, which is in fact a confiscation, was meant for the expansion of nearby settlements as well as for trade and tourism projects operated by the settlers. This is one of the largest declarations in recent years, and it is another illustration of the government’s policy of land confiscation, including those far beyond the green line and the separation barrier.
Peace Now: This declaration is a de-facto confiscation of Palestinian lands for the purpose of settlement. Instead of trying to clam the situation, the government is adding fuel to the fire and sending a clear message to Palestinians, as well as to Israelis, that it has no intention to work towards peace and two states. Netanyahu proves yet again, that settler pressure is more important to him than the deteriorating security situation.
Earlier today (March 7, 2016) the State updated the High Court of Justice on its position
regarding Peace Now's petition for the evacuation of 17 structures in the outpost of Derech Ha'Avot. Due to the "request of the
political echelon" and despite its previous commitments, the State announced that it seeks to work on the
retroactive legalization of 10 of the structures built on private Palestinian land in the illegal outpost. The
State hopes to do so by applying a "First Registration" procedure, a long complex procedure asking applicants
to prove legal ownership of a land. This comes only two years after this land had been surveyed and was not
declared state land, as it had clear owners. If the court accepts the State's position, in the best case
scenario the evacuation of the illegal structures as well as the return of the land to its Palestinian owners
will be postponed by several years, and in the worst case scenario, the State will find a way to retroactively
legalize the structures. As for the remaining 7 structures, the state argued that it will evacuate them within
Peace Now: The government's shameless legal acrobatics efforts meant to take over lands in area C is putting the two state solution in danger. We hope that the High Court will deny the State's attempt to act against its previous commitments and demand the evacuation of the illegal construction in the outpost of Derech Ha'Avot.
On February 24th, Congress sent HR 644, known as the “Customs Bill,” to President Obama's desk. As we has been reporting for the past year, this bill includes a provision that, while ostensibly about countering the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement (BDS) against Israel, is in truth about legitimizing settlements and for the first time in history legislating U.S. support for and defense of Israel's settlement enterprise and the occupation that enables it. The provision achieves this by conflating Israel and the occupied territories, in effect requiring the U.S. to treat both as sovereign Israel.
As long predicted by APN, when President Obama signed HR 644 into law shortly after it reached his desk, he issued a signing statement observing (correctly) that the conflation of Israel and settlements contradicts longstanding U.S. foreign policy and violates the Executive's constitutional foreign policy prerogative, and declaring that this conflation would not be implemented.
Yesterday, Israeli media reported on a blockbuster report alleging that the Obama Administration is lying when it says U.S. policy regarding the labeling of products from West Bank settlements hasn't changed since 1995, and alleging that the policy reiterated last month in a statement issued by the U.S. Customs Service (CBP), in fact, represents a change in U.S. policy.
These allegations rest on a “smoking gun,” unearthed by the intrepid researchers at a right-wing Israeli non-governmental organization called the Legal Forum for Israel, in the form of a 1995 document issued by CBP. The Legal Forum for Israel alleges that the document proves that U.S. labeling policy since 1995, according to which exports from the West Bank cannot be labeled as made in Israel, applied only to those areas of the West Bank under Palestinian self-rule in 1995. The NGO insists that the “reminder” of the policy issued by CBP in January 2016, which stated that labeling rules apply to the entire West Bank, thus clearly represents a (stealth) shift in U.S. policy.
Is this document, in fact, a smoking gun? Not in the slightest.
Over the weekend, Israel’s Peace Now movement published its annual report on West Bank settlement planning and construction in the past year. Following is the executive summary of Peace Now’s report, followed by a link to the full report, as well as links to several news articles about the report.
Settlement Watch Annual Construction Report