Posts Tagged ‘settlements expansion’

Death of a Myth: Israel’s Support of a Two-State Solution

August 29, 2009

Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Page 7

Special Report

By Rachelle Marshall

ISRAEL’S actions from the beginning have directly contradicted the image it projects to the West. The founding of a country that was to be “a light among nations” required the forcible expulsion of most of its original inhabitants. The “Middle East’s only democracy” became the brutal oppressor of three million Palestinians. The nationhood that was to endow the Jewish people with “normality” gave them instead a garrison state in which military strength is the dominant value.

  • On the day of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s White House meeting with President Barack Obama, a Palestinian woman in the occupied city of Hebron stares at an Israeli soldier standing guard near a wall spraypainted by settlers with obscenities and the Star of David. Ultranationalist Israeli Knesset members were visiting the city to protest Netanyahu’s promotion of the easing of restrictions on Palestinians (AFP photo/Menahem Kahana).

The most enduring myth of all is that Israel would welcome peace with the Palestinians and the Arab nations if they agreed to recognize Israel’s legitimacy as a state. In 1955 then-Prime Minister Moshe Sharett recorded in his diary a statement by Israel Defense Minister Moshe Dayan that revealed Israel’s true policy: preserving the unity of an immigrant population by discouraging peace efforts and maintaining a sense of permanent beleaguerment.

Continues >>

Masters of hypocrisy

July 4, 2009


By Khalid Amayreh in occupied East Jerusalem,, July 2, 2009

I have no doubt whatsoever that Shimon Peres, the President of the criminal state of Israel , would be the main winner in any international championship for the world’s worst liar and hypocrite.

This week, Peres participated in an interfaith conference in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan , where he had the audacity to lecture delegates representing the world’s major religions on peace, human dignity, moral ethics and religious tolerance.

During his speech, Peres, whose country carried out a virtual genocide in Gaza only six months ago, urged believers to show respect toward those who differ with them.

Continued >>

Settlement expansion plans

February 28, 2009

B’, Feb 27, 2009

Following the Oslo agreement, Israel made a commitment to the United States that it would not build new settlements or expand existing ones, except to meet “natural growth.” This narrow allowance, never defined, was utilized by Israel to greatly expand settlements and build new settlements, such as Modi’in Ilit.

In April 2003, Israel for the first time undertook to freeze settlement activity, including natural growth. The commitment was made in the framework of the “road map” agreed to by Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and the Quartet (the US, the European Union, the UN, and Russia), which provides an outline for achieving a two-state permanent resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In November 2007, at the joint declaration made at the Annapolis Conference, in which Israel, the Palestinian Authority, the Quartet, and Arab League states took part, Israel confirmed its commitment to the road map’s principles.

Despite its commitment to freeze building in settlements, protocols of the Supreme Planning Committee, in the Civil Administration, reveal plans for substantial expansion of settlements. The relevant protocols, of the Supreme Planning Committee’s Environment Subcommittee, were made in 2007 and 2008 and dealt with the treatment of sewage of settlements. B’Tselem received these protocols under the Freedom of Information Act. The plans uncovered also relate to anticipated expansion of settlements lying east of the route of the Separation Barrier, which some, most Israeli politicians present as Israel’s future border. These plans are in their initial planning stage, and none have been approved by the political echelon. However, the fact that the primary planning body in the West Bank considered plans to build thousands of housing units in settlements indicates that the West Bank’s planning bodies flout the official Israeli commitment not to expand settlements in the coming years.

The settlement of Gevaot. Photo: Eyal Reuveni, B'Tselem.
The settlement of Gevaot. Photo: Eyal Reuveni, B’Tselem.

Examples of settlement-expansion planning follow.

  • In the Eztion Bloc, a neighborhood, containing 550 apartments, is planned for the Gevaot area of the Alon Shvut settlement. Plans for building in this area, which currently is home to only twelve families, call for the building of 4,450 apartments. The construction has not yet been approved by the Defense Ministry, but the Environmental Subcommittee approved construction of a sewage-treatment facility, intended for 800 to 1,000 apartments, for the new neighborhood. At the hearing, it was also decided that the facility would treat the sewage from the adjacent Beit Ayin settlement. According to the protocol, 2,000 new apartments are planned for construction in Beit Ayin, which currently has some 120 families.
  • In the RimonimandEinav settlements, which lie east of the Separation Barrier, sewage treatment has been arranged as a first stage in advancing building plans. In Rimonim, 254 new apartments are planned, and in Einav, two plans for additional construction The jurisdiction area of the settlement Mevo Dotan which is also east of the barrier, is expected to expand.
  • The Ma’aleh Adumim municipality prepared a sewage-treatment plan for the settlement, including the planned construction of 3,500 apartments in E-1, in the framework of treatment of the sewage from SHAI [Samaria and Judea] Police Headquarters, which was moved to E-1.
  • In Kfar Adumim, the Subcommittee approved a sewage-treatment plan based on a projected doubling in size of the settlement, to 5,600 residents, in “the coming years.”
  • The Civil Administration’s planning office instructed the Eshkolot settlement to treat its sewage in accordance with the “full occupancy” plans of the settlement, which are expected to quintuple the settlement’s population.

Building of settlements breaches international humanitarian law, which prohibits the occupying power to transfer its population to occupied territory and to make permanent changes there.

Establishment and expansion of the settlements result in continuous and extensive infringement of Palestinian rights, among them the right to self-determination, the right to equality, the right of property, the right to an adequate standard of living, the right to water, the right to sanitation and the right to freedom of movement.

UN debates West Bank settlements

September 27, 2008
Al Jazeera, Sep 27, 2008

The construction of settlements is viewed as a major obstacle to peace [AFP]

The Palestinian president and Arab countries have criticised Israel over its settlement expansion policy in the West Bank during debates at the United Nations.

In a speech to the General Assembly on Friday, Mahmoud Abbas deplored as “racial terrorism” what he said were daily attacks by Israeli settlers on Palestinian civilians, and urged the international community to take action.

“[The settlements] will not allow for the emergence of a viable Palestinian state because they divide the West Bank into at least four cantons,” he said.

Prince Saud al-Faisal, the Saudi foreign minister, whose country formally called for the debate, said Israel must halt settlement activity and obey international law.

“Settlement makes the creation of a viable Palestinian state impossible,” he said.

“The only path to Israel’s security is peace and it is time for Israel to understand that it cannot continue to exempt itself from behaving in accordance to international law,” Prince Saud said.

The Palestinian Authority, Saudi Arabia and the Arab League urged the UN Security Council to encourage the faltering peace process by demanding an end to Jewish settlements on Palestinian land.

In August, Israel approved the construction of 400 new homes in a Jewish neighbourhood in east Jerusalem and invited bids for the construction of another 416 settler homes in the occupied West Bank.

Quartet meeting

The Middle East diplomatic Quartet on Friday pressed Israel and the Palestinians to seal a peace deal this year, but also expressed “deep concern” over continuing settlement expansion in the West Bank.

A ministerial session of Quartet members, the US, Russia, the European Union and the UN, ended with a call on the parties “to make every effort to conclude an agreement before the end of 2008”.

Quartet members “expressed deep concern about increasing [Israeli] settlement activity, which has a damaging impact on the negotiating environment and is an impediment to economic recovery and called on Israel to freeze all settlement activity.”

They also reiterated that the parties “must avoid actions that undermine confidence and could prejudice the outcome of the negotiations”.

In Annapolis, Maryland last November, Israel and the Palestinians revived negotiations toward resolving core problems such as the status of Jerusalem, the borders of a future Palestinian state and refugees, by the end of 2008.

Settlement expansion

Settlement expansion has nearly doubled since 2007, despite Israel’s pledge to freeze such activities, Peace Now, the Israeli watchdog, said last month.

“The situation necessitates a serious stand by the international community and a clear call upon Israel to begin withdrawing its settlers and dismantling its settlements,” Abbas said.

Settlement expansion has nearly doubled since 2007, according to Peace Now [File: EPA]

“It was recognised [in Annapolis] that this was a prerequisite for allowing negotiations towards ending the conflict to progress,” he said.But Gabriela Shalev, Israel’s UN Ambassador, told council members that while the settlements are a “delicate issue,” they “are not an obstacle to peace”.

“They have been used here as another instrument to bash Israel instead of addressing the realities on the ground,” she said.

“There is much that those in the region can do to support that peace process, but it is not about more UN meetings.

“It is, first and foremost, about commitment to prepare the people of the region for the price of peace, to accept the true meaning of peace,” Shalev said.

The West Bank has been under military occupation by Israel since 1967 and at least 400,000 Israelis have been settled in the territory, including East Jerusalem.

The settlements are illegal under international law, although Israel disputes this.

Bernard Kouchner, the French foreign minister, whose country currently chairs the European Union, restated the EU view that Israeli settlements, “wherever in the occupied Palestinian territories, are illegal under international law.”

He added that settlement “harms the credibility of the process started in Annapolis and affects the viability of the future Palestinian state.”

Reaching out

Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, shifted the focus of the debate away from settlements, instead urging Arab countries to “consider ways they might reach out to Israel”.

She said the Arab world needed to fully understand that: “Israel belongs to the Middle East and will remain” in the Middle East.

Meanwhile, a group of 21 leading aid agencies said on Thursday that the Middle East Quartet was “losing its grip” on the peace process and must radically revise its approach.

The aid agencies said the Quartet has failed to hold Israel to account for expanding settlements in the West Bank.

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