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Israel approves 829 new settlement units near Jerusalem

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New section of housing in the Jewish settlement of Givat Ze'ev, West Bank, July 17, 2013. (Photo: Debbie Hill/UPI)

New section of housing in the Jewish settlement of Givat Ze’ev, West Bank, July 17, 2013. (Photo: Debbie Hill/UPI)

Two weeks ago Prime Minister Netanyahu announced then quickly cancelled an order to build 20,000 new settlement units. He had angered American officials, pressed their limits, and then tabled Israeli expansion into the West Bank when it seemed the negotiations process was on the line. But today Peace Now announced Netanyahu is moving forward with the settlement project, approving over 800 new units north of Jerusalem in the neighborhoods of Givat Zeev, Nofei Prat, Shilo, Givat Salit, Nokdim and Amihai.

From the AFP: 

‘The construction of 829 homes has been approved by a committee of the Israeli military in charge of the West Bank,’ said Lior Amihai, a Peace Now official.

‘This is yet another move that threatens to derail the peace process,’ Amihai told AFP.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas has warned that ongoing settlement building by Israel in the Palestinian territories threatens the future of Middle East peace talks, which stand at an impasse little more than three months after they began.

The new homes would be built north of Jerusalem in the settlements of Givat Zeev, Nofei Prat, Shilo, Givat Salit and Nokdim, Amihai said.

Even as the current round of nine months of direct peace talks were kicking off, Netanyahu shattered any expectation that Israel would curb settlement expansion. In the first few weeks of the meetings with Palestinian officials, Netanyahu approved 1,200 new units. Then over the summer he grazed the Obama administration’s red-line, approving thousands of units inside of area E1, a land corridor between Jerusalem and the West Bank where settlement expansion would end Palestinian territorial continuity. But after the E1 announcement, Netanyahu froze construction in the controversial zone. Still driving around area E1 just last week there is a visible construction site where Israel is expanding the separation barrier on the northern edge of E1. And so the 829 new settlements are like this patch of the wall. Netanyahu is controlling the parameters of debate. E1 is off limits and tens of thousands of new settlements are not possible. But a comparatively smaller order hovering close to a thousand new units passes undetected.

Cumulatively, since negotiation began last spring Israel is moving at its highest rate of settlement expansion in seven years. When the statistics were published over the summer Ari Shavit said it was a ploy to a end to a two-state solution. “The trend is clear: Within a short time the number of settlers will increase dramatically, as will their ability to block any attempt to divide the land. If it continues this way, the Netanyahu-Lapid-Bennett government will put an end to the two-state solution, the Jewish democratic entity, and the Zionist dream,” the author of My Promised Land wrote in Haaretz.

Although Shavit has been know to exaggerate the political stakes at any current moment he is onto something here. Almost a year ago he wrote in a column, “After the settlers succeeded in preventing the establishment of a Palestinian state by occupying Judea and Samaria.” He notes settlers have fortified an “outpost” inside of the government, all the while building settler groups on the outside to kick out the polls of debate. Today in the Knesset there is an extreme rightwing working group banded together to normalize illegal outposts, even when the High Court has previously order their dismantling. Shavit calls this “conquering the central power structure of Israel in a well-planned pincer movement.” And outside of government there are settler spokesmen and even a pseudo foreign ministry taking anti-negotiations meetings with the U.S. congress. With their position firmly planted, it’s no surprise then that while Israel is talking about peace, Netanyahu is placating his party with 829 new settlements.

Allison Deger
About Allison Deger

Allison Deger is the Assistant Editor of Follow her on twitter at @allissoncd.

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15 Responses

  1. pabelmont
    November 25, 2013, 3:44 pm

    The Palestinians are a poor, brown people, so how can it matter to the “civilized” nations of the world that Israel violates I/L daily for 46 years with its settlements? Perhaps it could, but, clearly. it doesn’t. Perhaps neither “poor” nor “brown” matter here. Perhaps nations just think that the hard work of enforcing I/L is not worth doing, in any case. I mean, why bother? I don’t think the EU countries (unless it be UK) even have strong AIPACs to contend with — altho they may have the USA to contend with. But still, why bother when you can just makes ethical noises in UNGA every year and feel that you’ve done your duty.

  2. radii
    November 25, 2013, 3:48 pm

    and for every new settlement israel allows the U.S. should lift one more sanction against Iran or allow them one more nuclear facility

  3. Walid
    November 25, 2013, 3:49 pm

    “… Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas has warned that ongoing settlement building by Israel in the Palestinian territories threatens the future of Middle East peace talks…” (Allison)

    But in the same breath he continues, saying that nothing would make him quit his committment to the promised 9-month talk period. Empty words as usual.

  4. DICKERSON3870
    November 25, 2013, 3:54 pm

    RE: “The trend is clear: Within a short time the number of settlers will increase dramatically, as will their ability to block any attempt to divide the land.” ~ Ari Shavit

    MY COMMENT: This is the completion of what Ariel Sharon promised (one million settlers) back during the Carter administration.

    SEE: “New Israeli Government Will Support Settlements”, By Geoffrey Aronson, Al-Monitor, 4/05/13

    . . . It is not for nothing that it has long been said that “the Likud will announce 10 settlements and build one while the Labor Party will announce one and build 10.” Leaders from the heart of the Labor Zionist movement — the same one that transformed 78% of Mandatory Palestine into a Jewish state — were the principal architects of Israel’s post-1967 settlement policies in the occupied territories and employed all the instruments of Israel’s national power and authority to place the territorial future of the “liberated territories” beyond Palestinian reach.
    Moshe Dayan, Shimon Peres, and Ariel Sharon epitomized the leadership of this national effort. They were unabashed supporters of Greater Israel. Recently released protocols of discussions held between US President Jimmy Carter and an Israeli delegation led by PM Menachem Begin in March 1979 recorded Sharon telling Carter, “I don’t see any possibility whatsoever to draw any geographical line which can divide [the] Jewish population and Arab population, because we live here together. Believe me, Mr. President, when I use this figure of one million, saying that in 20 to 30 years I hope that one million Jews will live there, Mr. President, I can assure you, they will live there. There’s nothing to do about it. They will live there, and if we said that we believe that in Jerusalem, what we call the Greater Jerusalem, it is a crucial problem for us, to have one million Jews, they will live there, and they will live in what we call the area of Gush Etzion, in Tekoa, in Ma’ale Adumim. They will live there. There is nothing [you can] do about it.” . . .


  5. American
    November 25, 2013, 4:09 pm

    Obama and Kerry need to go for the Netanyahu kill now while they have the momentum of the big 5 Iran agreement.
    Peacekeeping forces on “Palestine land”.
    No new settlements ‘ enforced’
    No Isr settlement building materials, construction labor allowed in.
    The peacekeeping forces would be on land ‘legally’ recongized as still belonging to Palestine so Isr has no say.
    Dont need Isr agreement or permission—tell ’em dont ask ’em…..just do it.

  6. Justpassingby
    November 25, 2013, 4:32 pm

    What a ugly liar netanyahu is. And the puppet Abbas wont do anything. Not to mention Obama.

  7. amigo
    November 25, 2013, 4:43 pm

    Netanyahoo throwing another tantrum because he was sidelined during the Geneva Talks.

    Keep it up , Israel.You are just committing self destruction.

    • seafoid
      November 25, 2013, 5:31 pm

      Build ,Israel, build. Bop til you drop and boogaloo until you puke.

      Meanwhile Yitzhak Laor has a stunner in Ha’aretz

      ” Middle Eastern oil is important. It gave us the Balfour Declaration, the oil refineries, the Americans, the expression “the only democracy in the Middle East,” instead of, say, “oil defense installation.” It is oil the American economy needs, or the oil which gives it control over competing economies that need that oil. The story of Israel’s growth parallels the Western takeover of the region.

      For decades Israel has made one effort: to take advantage of American interests in order to become a military power. The most important thing was to obtain more and more weapons. The weapons sparked an arms race, which benefitted a segment of the American economy, through huge government contracts from. That’s the economy known as the west coast economy: high-tech, missiles, aircraft. But the larger and fatter our military grew, the smaller became Israel’s room to maneuver. Yes, one can burn up a Gaza police officers during roll call, wipe out a neighborhood in Beirut or a village in southern Lebanon, strike children in the West Bank, protect the settlers and jabber about “deterrence.” Not much more than that.

      In recent decades Israel has become part of American control of the region. Israel may talk – threaten, that is – as much as it likes especially if that furthers U.S. policy. It could even launch an attack – with permission only. True, from time to time, Likud MK Danny Danon says something completely independent at a Saturday morning community center panel discussion in a suburban town, but in principle, the Americans pay and make the decisions. Even the sewing of boots for the Israel Defense Forces isn’t an Israeli matter. During these decades, superpowers have fallen and risen, new economies have risen up, and the global balance of power has shifted. Israel has remained stuck along one axis – to increase the size of the army. And the greater its military power, the less its independence.

      If the United States and the West need access to the Iranian market; if indeed the United States is trying to cut its major losses in the current phase of its imperialism, the one that began with the Gulf war in 1991; if France is truly trying to make something out of the leavings of the United States, what does all that have to do with Israel, which has nothing to offer except its apocalyptic arsenal? Nothing. The arsenal has no strategic value without the Americans.
      For years, people here would compliment Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as if he had “managed to put the issue of the Iranian nuclear program on the world’s agenda.” If he hadn’t drawn a picture of a bomb in the United Nations, if he hadn’t threatened war and if he hadn’t met and phoned and run around, there would have been no sanctions. With the help of this interpretation, Israel’s military might seemed like a kind of sledgehammer wielded by Netanyahu. Everyone agreed that the apocalypse was on the way, and consensus emerged around his position. Since no politician in the Knesset opposition had anything to say about the “Iranian nuclear program,” none now have a real position on our shaky international standing.
      Now that one agreement has been signed the path is paved to a new era in the region’s history. Reporters are being dispatched to Geneva and Moscow to stand outside, shivering in the cold, waiting to broadcast, after the commercials and after the sex news. Netanyahu is once again being depicted, by the same pundits, as “provoking” the president of the United States. Some go so far as to dare say that he’s acting like the spokesman for the Republicans. And that is the same misunderstanding.
      The huge military assistance Israel receives – sums unparalleled in history – has turned it into a factor in American politics, which wants no more war. That is clear. Netanyahu can interfere in policy over there just as the captains of industry already do. Netanyahu’s speeches have limited PR value. While he speaks in the name of the Holocaust victims, he also speaks in the name of the only democracy in the Middle East, the only country in the world whose entire media, in the twilight of the gods, is busy with the sexual escapades of a singer and his father, and all the people, the collective that went from Mount Sinai to Channel 2, is salivating, sighing and enjoying itself. ”

      Yes, it’s the great game. It’s the rise and fall of empire. It’s assuming temporary situations are eternal. And it’s going to bite Israel on the ass.

  8. seafoid
    November 25, 2013, 5:28 pm

    The photo looks like the Tower of Babel.

    • just
      November 25, 2013, 10:01 pm

      Great observation.

      It’s awfully ugly, too.

      • seafoid
        November 26, 2013, 9:42 am

        It says so much about the Jewish presence in the region- ugly, out of tune with the landscape, defensive.

  9. Talkback
    November 25, 2013, 6:07 pm

    Obviously and act of hatred.

  10. bilal a
    bilal a
    November 26, 2013, 1:30 am

    Israeli culture spread further into WB presents a danger to children:

    Also on Wednesday morning, police went to the homes of several suspects in the case. One of the homes they went to was that of Golan’s father, a major figure in the case who is suspected of having procured the underage girls.

    The singer’s father is alleged to have used his son’s celebrity status to have sexual relations with the minors on various occasions, during which the singer and other figures also participated.
    Top Israeli singer’s Father in underage abuse

    • annie
      November 26, 2013, 2:15 am

      bilal, i fail to see how this is ‘israeli culture’ per se, unless these teens were smuggled in from Ukraine, Moldova, Uzbekistan, or something of this nature. but there have always been men who prey on young girls, that’s not jewish or israeli per se.

  11. amigo
    November 26, 2013, 6:22 am

    “Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas has warned that ongoing settlement building by Israel in the Palestinian territories threatens the future of Middle East peace talks,”

    There ain,t no stinking peace talks.

    Let,s start using the Term “Nakba” and drop the term Peace talks.One is a fact and the other is a fantasy.

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