News from Peace Now's (Israel) Settlement Watch:

This Monday (December 28, 2015) data from the latest Settlement Watch report was published as the main headline of the Haaretz Newspaper. The report, which was based on a freedom of information petition, exposed that the Ministry of housing is working on plans for 55,000 housing units in the settlements, over 8000 of them in E1. These findings also received significant international press coverage, including in the New York Times and the Washington Post. For the full report click here.

Due to our exposure, yesterday (December 29, 2015) Prime Minister Netanyahu renounced the plans for E1, arguing that these were done by former Minister Uri Ariel at his own initiative without the required authorization. Netanyahu also stated that the plans "have no standing and are non-binding." For a report on Netanyahu's response to the data we uncovered see this article in Ynetnews.
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News from Peace Now's (Israel) Settlement Watch:

A Settlement Watch Report

A Peace Now report, based on information disclosed by the Ministry of Housing (MoH) following our freedom of information petition, reveals highly concerning facts on the government's actions and intentions with regards to the settlements and the two state solution. The report includes data on the planning of 55,548 housing units in West Bank Settlements, including in E1, as well as plans for two new settlements and the immediate construction of 3,078 units, 78% of which east of the separation barrier.
 
For the full report click here
Peace Now: The exposed MoH plans portray a worrying and dangerous picture for the state of Israel and for the two state solution. The execution of the plans exposed does not only stand in contrast to previous promises to the United States, but also seriously threaten the possibility of arriving at a two state solution. We call on Housing Minister Yoav Galant of Kulanu not to follow his predecessor's vision and to stop these plans immediately. Rather than continuing to plan thousands of units in the settlements, we call upon Minister Galant to invest in planning and construction in Israel proper.
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News from Peace Now's (Israel) Settlement Watch:

Peace Now learned today that last month the Head of the Government Property at the Civil Administration declared 30 dumans of the Palestinian villages of Jinsafut and Dir Istya as state lands. This is, as far as we know, the first declaration of state land since August 2014, when 4,000 dunams were declared as state land - a step which has led to heavy condemnations, including by the United States. While declarations of state land came to a halt after the Roadmap, since Netanyahu came to power declarations of state land have acceded 6,000 dumans. Just like previous declarations, this declaration is not technical but political, as it has to be approved by the Minister of Defense. 
 
The main purpose of this declaration is to retroactively legalize construction in the settlement of Karnei Shomron, and to allow it to expand (see photos). Palestinians landowners have already submitted an appeal to the Civil Administration against the declaration. Although the declaration is small in size and is adjacent to an already built area of a settlement, it is still a clear step taken by the Israeli Government which is taking over land and handing it over to the settlers.
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Since the beginning of this year, an unprecedented but little-noticed campaign has been waged in Congress—backed by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and others—in support of Israeli settlements. At the core of this campaign is an effort to legislate a change in U.S. policy, which since 1967 has remained firmly opposed to settlements, under both Republican and Democratic presidents.

Backers of the campaign, both in Congress and among outside groups like AIPAC, are promoting numerous pieces of legislation that redefine “Israel” to mean “Israel-plus-the-settlements” and make supporting settlements an integral and mandatory part of American support for Israel, as a matter of policy and law. They pass off their efforts as an entirely non-controversial matter of countering boycott-divestment-sanctions (BDS) against Israel in general, countering BDS policies adopted by the EU and some European countries, in particular.

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Michael Koplow, the Policy Director at the Israel Policy Forum, this week added his voice to those suggesting that the US should drop its 48-year-old policy of opposing all Israeli settlement construction, and replace it with one that in effect green lights some such construction - or in Koplow's words, a policy that "distinguishes between kosher and non-kosher settlement growth." Koplow joins Brookings' Natan Sachs and others, all of whom follow in the footsteps of Dennis Ross in supporting such shift and predicting that it would help pave the way to peace. And Koplow - like his predecessors - uses words like "realistic" and "pragmatic" to describe his approach, suggesting that those who disagree are anything but.

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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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A recent article in Foreign Affairs by Brookings fellow Natan Sachs is getting a lot of attention: Why Israel waits: Anti-Solutionism as a strategy. (Full disclosure: Sachs is a friend and someone for whom I have great professional respect.)

The piece offers some valuable insights into how Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and those around him justify their approach on national security issues. However, the analysis suffers from an important omission with respect to the Israeli government's approach to the Palestinians, and offers a policy recommendation that, if adopted, would be disastrous.

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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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