Israeli gov’t moves ahead with settlement plans exploiting US transitional period  

By: Madeeha Al-A’raj/ NBPRS/

The National Bureau for defending land and resisting settlements (NBPRS) stated in its latest weekly report , that the Israeli Government is exploiting the results of the presidential elections in the United States and the expected change in America on next January in an extremely ugly manner to implement steps on the ground that devote the actual annexation of large areas of the occupied West Bank supported by the Trump’s Administration including the expected visit of the US Secretary of State, Pompeo, next week to the occupied Golan Heights and a number of settlements in the West Bank. In this context, it appears that the outgoing Trump pushes Israel towards partial annexation of lands in the West Bank to inflame wedges of dispute between Israel and the newly elected US President, Joe Biden.

This is taking place at a time when the Minister of the Occupation Army, Gantz is competing with both Netanyahu and Naftali Bennett, to legitimize the 1,700 settlement units in the occupied West Bank, in order to win over the settlers’ friendship, without the approval of the occupation authorities. The legalization of these housing units is being worked on by a team in the minister’s office in the Ministry of Security that is made up of Mikhail Bitoun, from the Kahol Lavan Party, and includes legal advisers from the Ministries of Security and the Judiciary and the Civil Administration and Gantz’s settlement advisor, Avi Roi. Knowing that talks are taking about those units to be converted into ‘legal’ by activating an article in the occupation law called ‘the market’ without any need to enact a new law. The aforementioned ‘market’ allows settlers to easily register controlled lands. If it is proven that its purchase was done in good faith. ‘The occupation authorities have used this to legalize relatively few buildings in settlements, including Kiryat Arba, Barkan and Nili. This team is working on a list that includes the settlements in which such buildings will be legalized. Among them are the settlements of Beitar Illit, Modiin Illit, Ma’ale Adumim, Ariel, Yitzhar, Ateret, Hallamish, Adora and Otniel.

At the same time, the so-called ‘Land of Israel lobby’, at the Knesset began a new campaign asking the government to legalize the outposts, before Joe Biden, the US President-elect, enters the White House next January. In this regard, dozens of members of the lobby submitted inquiries to the Ministry of the Army and the Prime Minister’s Office about these outposts and demanded their legitimacy prior to Biden’s arrival in power in the United States. In the last two weeks the lobby held several meetings regarding organizing this campaign, and members of different parties representing the right, including Likud Shas and Yihedot Hatorah tour settlements in the West Bank for this purpose, as the Knesset Constitution Committee begins a special debate on this issue next Tuesday.

On the land, the settlers don’t miss a chance to control more Palestinian lands, as settlers established a settlement outpost in the Ras A-Tin area in the village of Kafr Malik, east of Ramallah, and prevented the shepherds and the people from approaching the place, noting that settlers had previously established a settlement outpost. However, the people confronted and prevented them from establishing it, but protected by occupation forces, settlers tried to demolish the school there, which was funded by the European countries, in preparation for the expulsion of the Bedouin population, while settlers began to raze lands in Jabal Abdullah, east of Yanun, southeast Nablus to expand a new settlement outpost, and bulldoze lands near the settlement outpost known as ‘777’, which is built on Palestinian land east of Yanun. Settlers have also begun to establish a new settlement outpost by erecting tents in the Um Kharrouba area, west of Khirbet al-Suwaida in the northern Jordan Valley, as part of their ongoing plans to seize In the Jordan Valley.

In Jerusalem, the Moshe Leyon Municipality agreed to build 108 new settlement units in the ‘Ramat Shlomo’ Neighborhood. This scheme was stopped in the past due to a crisis between the Israeli government and the administration of former US President Barack Obama. This neighborhood, which is outside the Green Line, ‘East Jerusalem’, is mainly for the ultra-Orthodox, and the promotion of building in it was previously banned due to disagreements with the Obama administration. The local planning and construction committee will soon build more housing units in this neighborhood, amid expectations that this will be before the inauguration of the new US President, Joe Biden, the decision to approve the new housing units was not a political one, as business in the neighborhood has been going on for a long time.

In the city of Hebron, a Jewish settlement association received government approval allowing it to begin planning to demolish the wholesale market in the heart of the Old City to establish a settlement outpost in its place under the pretext that it has not been used for years by Palestinians, and that it is erected on the ruins of Jewish homes. Settlers’ spokesman in Hebron Noam Arnon said, the Association of Jewish Innovators succeeded in taking a decision to establish a ‘Jewish neighborhood’, a new settlement outpost on the lands of the ‘Wholesale Market’ in Hebron, explaining that the project came at the initiative of the Jewish Settlers Association in Hebron.