Peace Now's Settlement Watch: Land Allocation in the West Bank – For Israelis Only

Land Allocation in the West Bank – For Israelis Only

A New Settlement Watch Report

Following a request under the Freedom of Information Act submitted by Peace Now and the Movement for Freedom of Information (and after refusing to give the information and a two-and-a-half year delay), the Civil Administration's response was received:

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Creeping Annexation: Changes in the Interpretation of the Laws Regarding Occupation
Settlements Watch Peace Now,
December 2017

Report's Main Points:

In recent years, the Attorney General and the State Prosecutor's Office have made dramatic changes in their positions on a number of issues regarding Israel's control over the occupied territories (OT). These changes are part of the g overnment's effort to apply the standards of Israel's democracy to settlements located in territory that is subject to belligerent Israeli occupation, where the Palestinian population lives without democracy and equal rights. These changes are contrary to previous positions of the legal echelon and the Supreme Court, and they magnify the legal question surrounding Israel's control of the OT in terms of international law.

Among other things, the Attorney General stated that:

    • It is permissible to expropriate Palestinian land in cases where the Israeli takeover was carried out "in good faith."
    • It is permissible to confiscate land for the purpose of access to a settlement.
    • Abandoned property may be used for settlement purposes.
    • It is permitted to "liquidate" the abandoned property without judicial process.
    • It is permissible to expropriate protected tenancy of the Hebron Municipality on public land, even without a judicial process.
    • Legislative changes were made to facilitate the demolition and deportation of Palestinian communities in Area C.

These changes mark another step in the policy of de facto annexation of the OT to Israel, and they are intended to "normalize" the settlements and make them part of Israel, even without declaring so.

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News from Peace Now: President Trump’s declaration on Jerusalem is Bad News for Israel

From Peace Now:

The recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, in the current context, is a unilateral step undermining the chances for peace. The US has given up on its position as an honest broker that can help Israel and the Palestinian achieve peace, and Israel has lost the best ally it could have for that role. Jerusalem is no more “united” after the recognition and its status is as disputed as ever.
The only way to make Jerusalem universally recognized as the legitimate capital of Israel is through a two states agreement in which the Palestinians establish their own capital (Al-Quds) in east Jerusalem side by side with Israel’s Yerushalayim in west Jerusalem.

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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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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.

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

The Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics (ICBS) published its data on construction starts earlier today. The Data shows that in the first six months of 2016, 1,195 housing units started to be constructed in the settlements. This is an increase of 40% in comparison to the previous six month (July-December 2015), during which 850 housing units began to be constructed. In contrast, a 3% decrease in construction starts was noted in Israel proper (23,691 housing units in the first half of 2016 as opposed to 22,898 housing units in the second half of 2015).

Peace Now: "Netanyahu is the Prime Minister of one sector only - the settler sector, which comprises of less than 5% of the Israeli population. His investments in the settlements do not only come on the expense of the Negev, the Galilee and the rest of Israel but also lead towards a one state reality.

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

The Legal Opinion Submitted to the Attorney General
on Amona: a Crossing of a Red Line

Amona-wikimedia-320x265This morning the Army Radio reported that the committee established by the government to find a solution of the illegal outposts issue recently submitted a legal opinion to the Attorney General according to which it is possible to use the absentees’ property in the case of the illegal outpost of Amona. The committee’s idea is to take private Palestinian lands in the nearby plot to where Amona is today, whose owners do not live in the West Bank, and lease them to the settlers of Amona through a lease that will be renewed every three years. This way, the settlers of the illegal outpost, which must be evacuated by the end of December due to a High Court ruling, will be able to live close by to where the outpost is located today. AG Avichai Mendelblit will soon announce whether he intends to accept or reject the legal opinion.
Peace Now: "Accepting the legal opinion of the committee and thereby violating private property rights in the Occupied Territories will constitute the crossing of a red line. The acceptance of the legal opinion would have dire consequences on a future peace agreement as it could lead to the establishment of dozens of new settlements and to the multiplying of the land taken up by settlements in the West Bank. The Israeli government cannot justify the stealing of private lands of absentees only to please the demands of settlers who themselves stole private lands against the law."


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

Yesterday it was published that the High Planning Committee of the Civil Administration advanced plans in different stages for over 200 units in the settlements after receiving a green light to do so from the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defense. This is another indication of a shift away from the so-called "planning freeze" of 2015. For a list of all plans approved in 2016 click here.

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

Advancement of Plans for Housing Units in the Settlements up by 250% in the First Quarter of 2016 Compared with the Same Period Last Year

While the government's declared policy in the settlements is that of a "planning freeze," during January-March 2016 plans for 674 housing units in the settlements were advanced (all over the West Bank and particularly in isolated settlements), as opposed to 194 housing units in the same period last year. 
During 2015, plans for 1,665 new housing units were promoted (1,044 of them were retroactively legalized after having been built illegally and without a plan). This number constitutes a substantial decrease from 2014, during which 8,606 new housing units had been promoted (801 of which retroactively legalized). The figures of the first quarter of 2016 illustrate an upturn in the approval of plans, and sharply increase the total number of units promoted by the current Netanyahu government. Additionally, as illustrated by the numbers above, while the government states that it currently approves plans for already existing construction only, in reality in 2016 only 26% of the plans advanced constituted retroactive legalizations (compared with 63% in 2015).

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

Report2015SettlementsOver 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.

2015 In the Settlements: No Freeze At All
Settlement Watch Annual Construction Report
Peace Now's annual construction report reveals that in 2015 construction continued throughout the West Bank settlements, and especially in isolated settlements. These finding refute the argument that a "silent freeze" is currently in place. While earlier this year Netanyahu argued in English that he is the Prime Minister who has built the least in the settlements, in Hebrew he proudly demonstrated to Likud members the increase in settlement construction during his time in office. It is clear that in 2015 as well, Netanyahu's statements in Hebrew are more representative of the reality on the ground than his statements in English.
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