Report: Israeli banks finance settlement construction under new laws

By: Madeeha Araj/ NBPRS/

Human Rights Watch ( HRW ) disclosed that the largest 7 Israeli banks are providing services that help support, maintain, and expand unlawful settlements by financing their construction in the occupied West Bank in 1967 aggression, including partnering with developers to build homes on land unlawfully seized from Palestinians. The banks’ involvement is direct and substantial, they acquire a property interest in the development projects and shepherd them till completion. The HWR added the occupier transfers of members of its civilian population into the occupied territory, and the deportation or transfer of members of the population of the territory, are war crimes.

Banks that finance or accompany construction projects in the settlements are partners in settlement expansion because building is made on land declared by the Israeli Authorities as State land, illegally expropriated from the Palestinians, said Sari Bashi. Head of International Human Rights Organization.

Moreover, the Israeli Knesset passed a law in first reading that gives local authorities and municipalities in the occupied territories to grant economic concessions to settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, after the law for the legitimization of settlement outposts or the so-called “Settlement Law, which extends sovereignty of the Israeli Higher Education Council on the academic centers in the settlements under the laws that are enacted by the Israeli Knesset.

The new amendment gives for the first time the Interior Minister the power to distribute Arnona and tax revenues from industrial areas inside Israel for Israeli settlements outside the Green Line. This amendment was explained by the need to distribute the revenues of the industrial zones “fairly” to all local authorities and municipalities including settlements in the territories occupied in 1967, which have been excluded from the law so far.

On the other hand, the Knesset approved the first reading of a bill proposed by the Minister of Justice, Aiyelit Shakid, to withdraw from the Supreme Court the right to discuss petitions filed by Palestinians from the occupied territories in 1967. According to the bill, these petitions will be discussed in the Jerusalem District Court. Shakid claimed that the Knesset has taken a major step in making life normal in the West Bank, as we have seen that at the outposts of Amona and Netaf Hafot. ”

The Knesset also discussed a bill submitted by former coalition leader, David Beitan and some MKs calling for the cancellation of the so-called “disengagement” or Ariel Sharon’s 2005 law, known as the Unilateral Separation law, and consequently allowing settlers to return to evacuated settlements in the northern West Bank, such as, Sanur and Homesh in Jenin Governorate. The Israeli High Court of Justice has rejected a new petition filed by Palestinians from Silwad regarding the recently vacated “outpost of Amona” land, demanding its return to their owners. At the same meeting, sources said that the High Settlement Committee of the Supreme Council of the Civil Administration was to discuss about 31 plans to add housing units to the settlements on the occupied West Bank.

The Supreme Planning Council of the Israeli Civil Administration approved the construction of approximately 2,070 new settlement units in Jerusalem and the West Bank, of which 1,100 settlement units in the occupied West Bank in Gush Etzion and Kiryat Arba settlements south of Hebron, 129 in Har Bracha near Nablus, 166 in the “Eilah Zahav,” 53 in Helmish, 19 in Baduil, 17 in Revavah, 13 in Tabuah and 5 in Bani Huber. Furthermore, 206 units were also approved to be built in the Tsufim settlement, 96 in Sinsna and 96 in Nokdim, where Minister of Defense, Avigdor Lieberman lives, 38 in Kfar Etzion, 13 in Einab and 8 in Beit Aryeh, which are built on ​88 dunums belonging to the Arab Ta’amra village. Besides, the approval of building more than 560 settlement units in Jerusalem settlements, including Kfar Adumim 92 and Har Hadar 10, 92 additional housing units in the ” Kfar Adumim ,” 135 units in the “Tana Omrim” south of Hebron, 42 units in the Carmel “settlement, 24 units in Maaleh Hefer, 57 “Ngohot,” and 45 units have been built and waiting for occupation licenses.

The “Higher Planning Council” in the so-called “Civil Administration” of the Israeli occupation has approved a new settlement plan on 145 dunums, which part of a larger plan to build 322 housing units on an area of 660 dunums, approved in Feb. 2017 on the new “Novi Perishit” neighborhood located within the territory of the Anata village.