Israel Unleashes Bulldozers; Announces Plan to Build 3,000 More Homes for Settlers on Palestinian-occupied Land
December 4, 2013
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com & Chaim Levinson /Haaretz & Agence France-Presse & YNet News
Israel's repeated promises -- both public and private -- to slow settlement expansion to facilitate the peace process have once again proven empty as more bulldozers have been unleashed to level Palestinian-occupied lands. Defense Minister Ehud Barak approved 6,200 West Bank housing units during his last four months in office. Now Isreal's new Defense Minister had approved construction of 3,000 more homes for settlers on Palestinian land.
Israeli DM Approved 3,000 New Settlement Homes in West Bank
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(December 2, 2013) -- Israel's repeated promises both public and private to slow settlement expansion to facilitate the peace process have never amounted to much, and Israeli NGO Peace Now is revealing another 3,000 settlement construction approvals by Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon earlier this year.
These expansions were above and beyond previously announced expansions in metro Jerusalem, as the Israeli Defense Ministry only covers areas outside of the metro area, which Israel considers annexed and no longer "occupied."
The biggest concern, however, is how many of these 3,000 homes are outside of the established settlement blocs, and on the wrong side of the "barrier of separation," meaning Israel is continuing to expand in even the areas they themselves claim are to be part of a future Palestinian state.
Peace Now offered a harsh criticism of Ya'alon with their report, saying he has "become a rubber stamp of the Yesha Council of Settlements," and has been trying to cover up many of the most controversial expansions.
Defense Minister Approved 3,000 New West Bank Homes in First Four Months of Term
Chaim Levinson /Haaretz
(December 2, 2013) -- Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon furthered the construction of 3,000 housing units in West Bank settlements during the first four months of his term, according to Defense Ministry figures.
The figures, which were made available to Peace Now under the Freedom of Information Act, relate to the period of March to July of this year. During that period, Ya'alon approved the construction of 386 housing units in Beit El -- in compensation for the state's demolition of houses in the Ulpana neighborhood -- 277 units in Elei Zahav, 290 units in the Har Ephraim neighborhood of Kedumim, 550 units in Talmon, and a total of 984 units in two areas of Givat Ze'ev.
The information follows an Haaretz report Monday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had reiterated to the United States that he did not intend to advance construction in the settlements.
Ya'alon also approved expanding the municipal boundaries of the settlement of Shiloh, making further construction there possible, and a nature reserve was appended to the settlement of Negohot. The Civil Administration is now considering whether to change the definition of the area as a nature reserve, which would enable construction on the land.
A look at the map reveals that, despite the state's declaration that construction would be restricted to settlement blocs, there are plans for all the settlements, including those along road 60 and those distant from the separation barrier. For example, Talmon, which is isolated, is one of the settlements where new housing has been approved.
The defense minister did not approve housing plans in the controversial E1 area near Ma'aleh Adumim east of Jerusalem, where Housing and Construction Minister Ariel Atias has been seeking approval for new construction.
Ya'alon is a frequent and welcome visitor to West Bank settlements. Davidi Perl, chairman of the Gush Etzion Regional Council, has called him "a true friend of the settlements." By contrast, former defense minister Ehud Barak, who enabled twice as many housing units as Ya'alon, is considered an opponent of the settlements.
The figures provided by the Defense Ministry also pertain to approvals given by Ehud Barak from November 2012 last year until his term ended in March 2013. Barak approved a total of 6,200 housing units in 15 different settlements. Among them were:
550 units in Kfar Adumim,
40 units in the outpost of El Matan,
839 units in Ariel,
720 units in Alfei Menashe,
48 units in Kiryat Arba (to be built by Amana, the settlement movement of Gush Emunim,)
42 units in Almon,
150 units in Adam and
260 units in Tzofim.
According to Lior Amihai, of Peace Now's settlement watchdog team, "the defense minister has become a rubber stamp of the Yesha Council of Settlements and the settlers. Despite attempts to conceal most of the information, we were able to uncover a wave of construction authorizations by means of the Freedom of Information Law, as well as plans for 9,000 housing units in nine months."
Amihai added that while Justice Minister Tzipi Livni is promoting a peace plan, "behind the scenes, Ya'alon and Ariel and continuing to promote construction plans, which, if they are fully realized, will change the map of the West Bank significantly. The prime minister must instruct Ya'alon to stop advancing the plans."
Israeli Bulldozers Clear Palestinian Land for New Settlements
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(December 3, 2013) -- Another settlement scandal is emerging today in Israel, as bulldozers are moving against Palestinian-owned territory in the occupied West Bank, clearing it and setting up "temporary housing" in anticipation of yet more settlement expansions.
It isn't just that the Israeli government is taking yet more land away from its private owners for the illegal settlements, but the methods which are raising eyebrows, as Israeli NGO Peace Now and local Palestinian officials both detailed.
The Israeli government gave its usual "notice" of the plans to seize the land, telling the Palestinian owners they have the usual two months to "present objections" in Israeli courts: a long difficult process that often takes years of courts overruling the government to get anywhere.
They issued the notices but they didn't actually wait to hear the inevitable complaints from the owners of the property, instead immediately sending in the bulldozers, rendering the legal challenges too late to make a difference.
Report: Israel Clears West Bank Land for Future Settler Homes
Agence France-Presse & YNet News
TEL AVIV (December 3, 2013) -- Israel has bulldozed land slated for settler homes in the West Bank, a local Palestinian official said Tuesday, ahead of a visit by the top US diplomat to boost peace talks. "The occupation (Israeli) authorities informed us, through notifications to landowners, that new settler homes would be built in the village of Al-Mazraa al-Qabaliya," Abdallah Lawadeh told AFP.
Peace Now said the army had approved on November 7 the construction of the 255 units in the Israeli settlement Nahlei Tal. "But it's only a first step, and objections can be submitted within 60 days," Lior Amihai, a spokesperson for the group, told AFP.
The units are among some 800 settlement homes approved by Israel in October, when it released 26 long-term Palestinian prisoners as part of an agreement to re-launch US-brokered peace talks.
Israeli officials have said the settlement announcements are part of understandings reached with the Palestinians in order to re-launch the talks, but the Palestinians have adamantly denied this, condemning all settlement construction.
The reported bulldozing came a day before US Secretary of State John Mahmoud Abbas has not yet accepted their resignation. The Palestinians have threatened to sue Israel through international courts should there be a failure in peace talks, which have been given a nine-month deadline -- until around April -- to reach an agreement.
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