From Peace Now's Settlement Watch:

The past few months have seen unprecedented developments in the settlements, causing severe damage to the chances of a two-state solution. Accelerated population growth, approvals of housing units in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, promotion of bypass roads, advancements of Knesset bills, home demolitions and changes in legal interpretations - all lead to a situation of de-facto annexation of area C. Without any official declarations, the Israeli government is preventing the viability and contiguity of a future Palestinian state, while treating lands in area C as its own. The implications of the abovementioned developments are far-reaching for Israel, the Palestinians and the region as a whole. 

Peace Now's new report summarizes key developments of the last several months and analyzes their impact, individually and together, on the viability of a Palestinian state alongside Israel and the possibility for a two state solution.

Even with the lack of a final status agreement in sight, it is our duty today to struggle in order to prevent silent annexation efforts and to assure the possibility of a two state solution on the ground.
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News from Peace Now:

The Shamasne family, who resides in East Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, recently received an eviction order from the Execution Office of Israel's Enforcement and Collection Authority. The order states that the family must evict its home by August 9th 2017, or else it will be forcibly evicted.
 
This order follows a High Court verdict from August 2013, in which the court rejected the Shamasne family appeal, and ruled that family members are not considered protected tenants and that therefore, their landlords are allowed to evict them. The landlords are settlers who had managed to gain ownership over the property on the basis of the right of return to Jews only (see more information below).

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Israeli Settler Population Data

After receiving many requests from scholars and from the media for information on the population growth of West Bank Jewish settlers, we are publishing a table based on data collected by Israel’s Peace Now movement. The table shows the population growth in Israel and in West Bank settlements since 1967. While the data shows the rapid growth of the settlers’ population, it also points out what a small minority the settlers are out of Israel’s overall population.

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News from Peace Now:

In the coming weeks the Jerusalem regional planning committee will discuss new plans for East Jerusalem, in both Israeli neighbourhood settlements beyond the Green Line and within Palestinian neighbourhoods. (See a full list of plans at the bottom of the report.)

Peace Now: “ The government is brutally attempting to destroy the possibility of the two-state solution, and this time it is by establishing a new settlement at the heart of a Palestinian neighbourhood in East Jerusalem and promoting nearly 1,800 housing units beyond the Green Line. The eviction of 5 Palestinian families, which are protected tenants, in order to establish a new settlement in Sheikh Jarrah shows that nothing will get in the way of settler groups and a pro-settler government from preventing a future compromise in Jerusalem."

A. A new settlement in Sheikh Jarrah

On July 16, the Jerusalem regional planning committee is intended to discuss several plans for settlements within Palestinian neighbourhoods. Of those, 4 plans will be discussed for the Um Haroun neighbourhood (located within Sheikh Jarrah). This is the first time in recent years that new housing units are being planned for settlers within a Palestinian neighbourhood. Furthermore, two of the plans include the demolition of homes of 5 Palestinian families.

Plan 14151: A three story building for 3 housing units. Construction entails the demolition of a home of a Palestinian family.
Plan 14029: A five story building for 10 housing units. Construction entails the demolition of homes of 4 Palestinian families.
Plan 68858: A nine story (seven above ground) Yeshiva campus named, “Or Shameach” that includes student accommodation.
Plan 499699: A six story office building.

The two plans for 13 housing units in Sheikh Jarrah will be established on properties in which 5 Palestinian families currently reside. These properties are under a legal battle through which settlers seek the evacuation of these Palestinian families. Although the Palestinian families are legally regarded as protected tenants they reside in properties that prior to 1948 were Jewish owned, and the Israeli law enables Israeli citizens to return to properties that were owned by Jews prior to 1948. Hence, settlers and settler groups actively attempt to get hold of rights to Jewish owned properties from before 1948. In the cases of the five Palestinian families, the legal actions taken by settlers for their eviction have yet to be materialize. Nevertheless, the law enables landowners to destroy and restructure a new building whilst protected tenants do not lose their legal rights, hence the advancement of these plans.

Click to download the official July 16 agenda (Hebrew).

Click to read background on settlements at Sheikh Jarrah.

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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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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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