Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at his Jerusalem office December 2, 2018. Gali Tibbon/Pool via REUTERS

Settlements continue while Netanyahu discusses annexation plans with US administration  

 By: Madeeha Al-A’raj

The National Bureau for defending land and resisting settlements (NBPRS) stated in its latest weekly report , that a high-level American delegation arrived to Israel in order to discuss Israeli annexation plans following the White House’s deliberations last week, which ended without a decision, and then referred the matter to the Israeli Occupation State being concerned as US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo claimed. The delegation includes the American ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, the special envoy of the President of the United States, Avi Berkowitz, and a member of the American-Israeli Maps Committee, Scott Fathy. The American delegation is scheduled to meet with the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Army Minister, Benny Gantz, as well as other senior officials, to continue negotiations on the annexation plan, and the mechanisms by which annexation will take place, while Ambassador Friedman considers delaying the annexation, will endanger the entire process if Trump is not re-elected next November.

Within the context of the American support for Netanyahu’s camp and his aggressive policy, members of Congress and the Senate of the Republican Party signed 2 letters, the first to President Trump, and the second to the head of the occupation government, Netanyahu, in which they have expressed their support for the Trump’s plan, and called for enabling Israel to impose sovereignty over the West Bank according to the plan, they claim that implementing the Trump plan will neither harm the Palestinian nor hinder peace.

At the same time, the Minister of the Army, Benny Gantz, held a meeting with the leaders of the security apparatuses to discuss the imminent Israeli annexation measures, amid increasing possibilities for the Israeli government to start annexing settlements to the favor influence of the municipality of the occupation in Jerusalem during next July. The meeting, in which the chief of staff of the army, Aviv Kochavi, the head of the Israeli General Security Service, Shin Be, Nadav Argaman, and the head of the Mossad, Yossi Cohen, came in the eve of military exercises conducted by the Israeli security forces in preparation for the annexation procedures, and scenarios of the IDF to response if a Palestinian escalation occurred.

This comes at a time when international reactions denounce the Israeli occupation’s intention to annex parts of the West Bank. More than a thousand European delegates from 25 countries urged their leaders to intervene to halt Israel’s plan to annex parts of the occupied West Bank. In a letter published in some newspapers, and then sent to foreign ministers of European Union’s countries, 1080 European MPs said, “they are concerned with the repercussions of this act, and it effects on the International relations, adding such a move would undermine the prospects of the Israeli – Palestinian peace process, and threaten the criteria for managing international relations, including the United Nations Charter.”

On the level of settlement activities, land grabbing continue to expand a settlement road with a width of 10m and a length of 2km linking the settlements of Betar Illit and Gafout in lands located in Ein Fares in the lands of Nahalin town, west of Bethlehem, which would lead to the separation of about 3,000 donums, which hinders the owners to reach. This is in addition to pumping wastewater into fields and damaging crops. Settlers exploits the Covid-19 pandemic and seized hundreds of agricultural dunums in the areas of Kerkafia and Maswana southwest of the town.

In Jerusalem, the local committee for organization and building in the Jerusalem District approved four building files in different areas in the Ramat Shlomo Settlement (Shuafat Hill), located to the north of the Old City and is part of a comprehensive plan to build 1531 settlement units on lands that the Israel Land Authority claims to possess. The plan, which has been approved includes the building of three residential buildings consisting of seven to eight floors above the ground and one floor underground for parking. Moreover, the Israeli court again agreed to sell the property of the Orthodox Church in Jerusalem to the settlers.