Since the start of the new Israeli-Palestinian peace effort backed by Secretary Kerry, it feels like every day has seen news about new settlement approvals, tenders, planning, benefits, etc. In truth, it hasn't been quite every day - but close to it. The settlement floodgates have been opened, and opened wide, especially in East Jerusalem. This timeline is intended not to provide comprehensive details of each new settlement-related development, but to track these developments across time and provide links to additional resources. Also, keep in mind that new developments can be viewed on the map through APN's "Facts on the Ground" Map App.
Americans for Peace Now (APN) today harshly condemned the government of Israel's recent actions to move forward with new settlement approvals and tenders in both East Jerusalem and the West Bank. APN urged President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry to engage vigorously to convince Netanyahu to roll back these reckless, destructive decisions.
APN President and CEO Debra DeLee commented:
"Yesterday's announcement of tenders for 1200 new units in settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem was an extraordinary sign of contempt for President Abbas and for new U.S. special Middle East peace envoy Martin Indyk, who arrived in Israel this week to restart talks. It came on the heels of last week's outrageous news of a decision to press ahead with almost 900 new settlement units. Today's announcement of the approval of nearly 1000 additional settlement units in East Jerusalem appears to reflect nothing short of deliberate effort to extinguish any hopes of success for the Kerry-backed peace effort before the second round of talks even starts.
Anyone familiar with the history of Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking can be forgiven for viewing new Israeli-Palestinian negotiations with a certain degree of skepticism, in large part fueled by concern that settlements will, once again, be used to undermine the chances for achieving peace.
Recent settlement-related developments warrant such concern. Clearly, some are happy to use settlements to kill the new peace initiative, perhaps hoping this will be the final nail in the coffin of the two-state solution. If they succeed, there will be opportunities aplenty for hardliners and cynics alike to smirk and say, "We told you so," but they'll be smirking into the abyss. Failure of this latest peace effort won't create an alternative to the two-state solution or halt the march of settlements. It will only play into the hands of zero-sum ideologues on both sides, with devastating implications for everyone else.
Peace Now (Shalom Achshav) has released research findings by Lior Amihai of settlement watch, showing over 1000 units being advanced despite the ongoing negotiation process. Some of these plans (approx. 300) had been removed from the previous Higher Planning committee agenda due to the press coverage (including those of Shalom Achshav) of these being brand new plans, and the pressure from the then recently announced EU guidelines.
They write, "We are obviously concerned by these units, the legalization of an outpost and the impact this will have on the negotiation process.It is hard to argue about whether this is in contradiction to Netanyahu's recent commitment to limit new tenders to 1000 units over the negotiaiton process, but suffice it to say, this exemplifies that Netanyahu is placating to the interests of the settlers."
by Lara Friedman
People keep asking me: "Have you seen the news? Has Bibi actually frozen settlements? What does this mean?"
According to an Israeli radio report earlier today, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently ordered Minister of Housing Uri Ariel not to issue new tenders for construction in settlements.
On the heels of this report, Israel's Peace Now movement today confirmed that, since President Obama's visit to Israel in March, the government of Israel has not announced or approved any new West Bank settlement construction plans, and has not approved any new tenders for settlement construction.
On December 31, 2012, Time Magazine published an article entitled, "The West Bank's 2012: The Year of the Israeli Settlement." Earlier this week, the Israeli Peace Now movement released a new report that makes a case for a different title: 2009-2013: the Years of the Israeli Settlements. The new report (which I co-authored) details the Netanyahu government's record on settlements over the course of its past 4 years in office. The results are incontrovertible: by every objective measure, the Netanyahu government has demonstrated that it is determined to use settlements to destroy the very possibility of the two-state solution.
The Israeli Peace Now movement (Shalom Achshav) today released an explosive report detailing the record of Prime Minister Netanyahu's government on settlements over the course of its full term in office (April 2009-present). The report, based on official Israel government statistics, reports, and Peace Now field research, documents how over the past four years, the Netanyahu government has used settlements as a tool to systematically undermine the chances of achieving a viable, realistic two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, despite Netanyahu's rhetorical embrace of such a goal.
The full report is available in English, here.
In recent weeks it has been fascinating to watch defenders of the Netanyahu government and the
settlement enterprise engaging in logical and rhetorical contortions to try to justify the Netanyahu
government's pro-settlement policies. What has emerged is simultaneously the most disingenuous and in some ways
the most honest discussion of settlements in years.
What is a settlement?
"Settlement" is the term used to denote Israeli civilian communities built in territory conquered by Israel in the Six Day War (June 1967). This territory is comprised of the West Bank (including East Jerusalem), the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights and the Sinai Peninsula. These neighborhoods have been a major issue in the peace process since 1967 and remain highly controversial.
Settlements in the Sinai were evacuated and destroyed in 1979, following Israel's historic peace agreement with Egypt and the return of the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt.
Settlements in the Gaza Strip were evacuated and destroyed as part of Israel's unilateral "disengagement" from Gaza in 2005.
Therefore, today settlements only exist in the Golan Heights and the West Bank (including East Jerusalem).