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Israel announces yet another new settlement, as U.S. plans to join Europe in fresh criticism

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There was big news on illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank this weekend. Israel announced yet another new settlement, near Shiloh, in order to accommodate 40 families who are being evacuated from illegal Amona settlement a few miles to the south.

And: the Quartet is getting ready to issue a report later this month condemning Israeli settlement construction– and house demolition and land appropriation– as the chief obstruction to a peace deal between Israel and Palestine. Rather than restraining its European partners, the United States has taken the lead in crafting the report, according to the Associated Press, and that marks a “subtle shift” in Washington’s position.

Israel is furious, even though the report is symbolic. The move is seen by some D.C. types as evidence that the United States will actually try and make a move for a peace deal before President Obama leaves office: the November surprise scenario that was popular at J Street this year. Because as of January 20 next year, there will be zero pressure on Israel.

First, here’s the report from Haaretz on the latest settlement:

The Defense Ministry, together with the settlement movement Amana, is planning a new settlement near Shiloh in the northern West Bank. The new construction is intended for the 40 families now living in the outpost of Amona, which is set to be evacuated by the end of the year.

Homes in the Amona outpost in the occupied West Bank that will be evacuated by Israel. Photo by Phil Weiss

Homes in the Amona outpost in the occupied West Bank that will be evacuated by Israel. Photo by Phil Weiss

The new international report is aimed at just such policies: the “problematic trend” of legalizing smaller so-called outposts, according to the AP.

Here are the numbers, deep in the AP story, on Israeli settlers (almost all Jewish) in the West Bank and East Jerusalem: roughly the population of Milwaukee. And someone is going to move them out?

In 1972, there were just over 10,000 Israeli settlers, with 1,500 living in the West Bank and the rest in east Jerusalem. Two decades later, by the time of the Oslo peace accords, there were 231,200 Israelis living in the territories. That number rose to 365,000 by 2000, when the second Palestinian uprising began, and 474,000 by the time Benjamin Netanyahu became Israel’s prime minister again in 2008.

The settlements are now home to more than 570,000 Israelis, according to the Israeli anti-settlement watchdog Peace Now – 370,000 in the West Bank and 200,000 in east Jerusalem. Settlements range from small wildcat outposts on West Bank hilltops to developed towns with shopping malls, schools and suburban homes.

“This is how it works in Israel,” Ilene Cohen writes:

First, reward the violent settlers for leaving their illegal outpost (so defined even by Israel) slated (by court order) for evacuation by establishing a brand-new “legal” (but, of course, illegal) settlement for them. It’s all up front. The message to settlers is clear: onward to the next outpost and get yourself a new settlement. And as for the latest US “message”—and the “tougher tone” (second article following)—what’s the point?
Don’t get me wrong, better the latest report than not. Better to have the pile-on grow against the illegal Israeli colonization of Palestine than not. But, really, the “tougher tone” is more than half a million settlers too late.

Here’s the news part of the Associated Press report, by Matt Lee and Bradley Klapper:

The United States will endorse a tougher tone with Israel in an upcoming international report that takes the Jewish state to task over settlements, demolitions and property seizures on land the Palestinians claim for a future state, diplomats told The Associated Press.

The U.S. and its fellow Mideast mediators also will chastise Palestinian leaders for failing to rein in anti-Israeli violence. But the diplomats involved in drafting the document said its primary focus will be a surge of construction in Jewish housing in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

The U.S. approval of the harsh language marks a subtle shift. Washington has traditionally tempered statements by the so-called “Quartet” of mediators with careful diplomatic language, but the diplomats said the U.S. in this case will align itself closer to the positions of the European Union, Russia and the United Nations, who emphasize Israel’s role in the Mideast impasse.

The report’s release is sure to infuriate Israel, where officials are already bracing for expected criticism.

The AP says that the Quartet has been irrelevant for the last few years and while no action will follow from the report–

The diplomats said the report is intended to highlight obstacles to a two-state peace agreement – the stated goal of both Israeli and Palestinian leaders – and offer recommendations for restarting negotiations in a process that is stalled.

Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports:

Meanwhile, Israel has been in contact with all members of the Quartet in an effort to soften the tone of the report, Haaretz reported, citing an unnamed senior official in Jerusalem. In addition, Israel has provided documents to the Quartet in order to soften criticism of Israel or increase criticism of the Palestinians.

The Israeli official told Haaretz that there is concern in Jerusalem that the United States will allow a statement in the report saying settlements are illegal. To date, the harshest position the U.S. has taken is that the settlements are illegitimate and an obstacle to peace. Israel is also trying to prevent any mention in the report of possible future action in the U.N. Security Council, the official said.

Haaretz has a report on Israeli lobbying effort. They are obviously most concerned about a possible French resolution in the UN Security Council against settlements, and the possibility that the United States will either abstain or endorse the resolution.

Israel Lobbies U.S. to Soften Tone of Quartet Report on Settlements

Israel is working to prevent the report, to be issued in the last week of May, from mentioning future possible steps by the UN Security Council on the Israeli-Palestinian issue.

Although it is still unclear what the practical implications of the report’s criticism will be, Jerusalem ascribes great importance to it. That is because this is the first time in many years that the international community will be formulating an updated position on the freeze in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and will be doing so almost without taking the parties themselves into consideration.

[A] senior official said that Israel wants to prevent any mention in the report of possible future action in the UN Security Council. There is concern in Jerusalem over the possibility that the report will be presented by the Quartet to the Security Council as a basis for discussion and adoption as an official resolution


Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

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18 Responses

  1. Citizen on May 9, 2016, 12:25 pm

    Israeli settlements, U.S. policy: The gap between values and actions via @972mag

    • JWalters on May 9, 2016, 8:37 pm

      “I met with senior advisors on the apparently new policy from Israel concerning Jews settling all over the West Bank. Again we’ll rap Israel for this settlement policy, which is designed by Begin to aggravate us and to keep the Palestinians from becoming moderate and cooperative.”
      – White House Diary of Jimmy Carter, entry for Feb 12, 1980, 36 years ago.

  2. just on May 9, 2016, 12:59 pm

    Thanks for pulling this together, Phil.

    I’ve read some related articles over the weekend and today @ Haaretz. A sampling:

    From their twitter feed: “Israel’s new civics textbook makes no mention of the word “settlements”” for this article:

    “Israel’s New Civics Text Highlights God’s Role in State’s Creation, Dismissive of Arabs

    A 500-page book unveiled by Education Ministry sees Israel’s existence as the fulfillment of ‘God’s promise,’ seems to minimize role of Arabic as an official language, and makes little reference to Rabin assassination.”

    read more:

    then this editorial:

    “Why Are Israeli Taxpayers Forced to Pay for Lawbreaking Settlers’ Housing?

    The Amona outpost has exemplified settlers’ criminality since its establishment on privately owned Palestinian land in 1997; now the government wants to build them new homes in place of the ones due to be demolished.”

    (that one made me LOL because I could only think that milions of other than Israelis are paying for them in all different ways…)

    Finally, this one:

    “Israel Took Palestinian E. Jerusalem Family’s Land Behind Its Back, Gave It to Settler NGO

    Israel expropriated land from an East Jerusalem Palestinian family without a tender and against the rules, then handed it over to Amana, an organization that works to establish settlements and outposts, Haaretz has learned. …”

    read more:

    • just on May 9, 2016, 1:27 pm

      And another:

      “Israeli Settler Group Takes Over Muslim Quarter Building in Jerusalem

      The move reflects the Ateret Cohanim NGO’s new push to settle Jews in the Palestinian neighborhood of Al-Sadia.”

      read more:

      • Kay24 on May 9, 2016, 1:48 pm

        There is a limit to being patient, there is a limit to being tolerant. No one can fault the Palestinians for retaliating in some form or another. These are provocative crimes by these settler thugs, and they deserve to be punished in some form or another, if their own government, who keeps bragging they are the only “democracy” in the ME, cannot get their damn act together, and act like a civilized government. Instead they conspire with these criminals to keep expanding their evil empire.

        Let’s remember this crime, the next time a rockets is sent to the aggressors, and think perhaps these are victims that are sending a message of protest, because they are under military occupation that makes them helpless, and unable to help themselves, as no Western nation, nor their Arab neighbors, care a damn about their plight, or that the homeless Europeans whom no other nation wanted, has been dumped in their lands, to steal and make them lose all.

  3. John O on May 9, 2016, 1:03 pm

    That ladder goes a long way to explaining the Israeli construction industry’s dismal safety record, as reported on another MW thread.

  4. Kay24 on May 9, 2016, 1:20 pm

    This is being arrogant, and disregarding any intentional laws. Here we are in brink of giving more charity to these parasites, which they keep begging for, and they thumb their noses at us, knowing that the US does not recognize these squatter abodes, and condemns it.

    This is just like rewarding a big fat bully for beating up defenseless, weaker children.
    What the heck is Congress and the WH thinking?

  5. Ossinev on May 9, 2016, 1:26 pm

    Sorry have I missed something in the last decade ? The so called two state solution is a fantasy,a mirage, a work of fiction and has been for at least those ten years and some would argue, credibly,since the foundation of JSIL. For the UN,the US,the European States,the European Union to continue to talk of this as the only solution is blatant hypocrisy. They all know damn well that the boat has long ago sailed given the magnitude of the illegal settler population . At least Kerry and to a lesser extent Obama have tentatively and briefly fluttered a red flag “single Jewish Apartheid non democratic state” in the Yahoo`s face.

    As for the Quartet any institution,panel,review board,lunch date,pub get together with the revolting self serving Tony Blair in it is by definition a sham.That`s Tony as in look how rich I have become since I met up with my “Yo Blair” best mate G. Bush but money doesn`t buy me relevance in World Politics where I have real talent and ability (not) so I really need to be seen to be in the middle of and have a handle on a major ongoing world crisis.

    The UK Chilcot enquiry into the Iraq war will finally be published on 6th July – unredacted. Surprise surprise it will be published AFTER the UK EU referendum.

    Hopefully despite his “hard earned” millions it will make the b…….. squirm.

    • John O on May 9, 2016, 2:10 pm

      You’ll be glad to know that Blair is no longer involved.

  6. HarryLaw on May 9, 2016, 5:34 pm

    “The main question is how harsh criticism of the settlements will be,” a senior Israeli official said. “All the members of the Quartet can rally around this issue without a problem,” the official said, adding that Israel wants to avoid a situation in which the United States agrees to harden its position and insert a statement in the report that the settlements are illegal. So far, the U.S. position has been that the settlements are not legitimate and are an obstacle to peace. It would be difficult for the US to have an opinion that the settlements are illegal, backing up the opinion of the World court [ICJ] in the ‘Wall case’ since the ICC will [hopefully in the near future] be examining those very facts as set forth in the PA’s complaint. Watch for more restrained language. Only sanctions will impress the Israelis,unfortunately the west will not harm its baby

    • JWalters on May 9, 2016, 8:45 pm

      “unfortunately the west will not harm its baby”

      Unfortunately the west will not harm its financial master.

      • Sibiriak on May 10, 2016, 4:08 am

        JWalters: Unfortunately the west will not harm its financial master.

        And what’s truly amazing is how such a tiny country as Israel, ranking an unimpressive 55th in GDP (below Ukraine!), can be the unchallengeable Master of the entire “Western” economic, financial and military behemoth. And yet…

  7. pabelmont on May 9, 2016, 6:44 pm

    Anyone know anything about the possible French UNSC draft resolution? Wouldn’t it be a gas if a UNSC Res. were proposed (Israel: remove settlers and demolish settlements and wall, break Gaza blockade — ELSE SANCTIONS) and the USA did not veto it (say early in January 2017).

    Just wishful thinking, of course! Maybe a SNL skit ??

  8. JWalters on May 9, 2016, 8:49 pm

    pabelmont, That would be a no-brainer if the U.S. media were not controlled by Israeli-American criminals trying to incite more war. The SNL skit should include a massive perp-walk.

  9. Kathleen on May 9, 2016, 9:34 pm

    ” But, really, the “tougher tone” is more than half a million settlers too late. ”

    Nailed it

  10. HarryLaw on May 10, 2016, 6:14 am

    The major problem with the settlement issue is that Israel claims sovereignty over the whole of Palestine, or the ‘land of Israel’ as they see it. That is why Israeli governments never furnish maps or any documented proposals outlining their claims. To do so would be laughed at by the International community, since if they can claim the Syrian Golan Heights to be Israeli for all time, how could they give up part of ‘the land of Israel’ [Judea and Samaria] which all Mondoweiss readers know has been “part of Israel since time began” Hej. The west will do nothing to address this problem, even the mildest criticism makes the Israelis ‘furious’ and the west eager be back down. Not so long back Israel [8 million] threatened the EU [over 500 million] with serious consequences when the issue of proper labeling of goods manufactured in occupied territory was discussed.
    I don’t know what it will take for the west to grow a backbone, but until they do, the situation will only grow worse, and with it the suffering of the Palestinian people

  11. fishbiol on May 10, 2016, 5:18 pm

    One of the criteria to recognize a state is to have a defined border. The Israelis always say their borders are undefined. This is not true as they could not be recognized by the UN as a state if they did not have defined borders. See the discussion below:
    The Borders of Israel and Palestine
    Posted on June 15, 2014 by walk tall hang loose

    Borders. The meeting went on to consider a draft Declaration. There was a heated discussion about the borders. Some members thought they should be mentioned in the Declaration, but Ben-Gurion was vehemently opposed. He said:

    We accepted the UN Resolution, but the Arabs did not. They are preparing to make war on us. If we defeat them and capture western Galilee or territory on both sides of the road to Jerusalem, these areas will become part of the state. Why should we obligate ourselves to accept boundaries that in any case the Arabs do not accept?

    This is the first appearance of the idea that, because the Arabs rejected the Zionist takeover of half of the territory of Palestine, the Zionists were entitled to take more than half. We may call it the Ben-Gurion Doctrine. The meeting decided not to mention borders in the Declaration, by a vote of five to four in favor, the other four members being absent.

    The meeting continued on May 13. Various issues were raised, including a rejected proposal to include the phrase “within its historic homeland” by members who wanted the State to include land on both sides of the Jordan. Then, Kleiman tells us, Ben-Gurion took the draft home and rewrote it extensively, omitting any reference to the UN Partition Plan.

    Change of mind. The Declaration was considered by the National Council the next morning, May 14, and finally approved unanimously, on the second vote. The secretarial staff typed up the final changes, and the document arrived at the Tel Aviv Museum just in time for the ceremony at 4 p.m in which Ben-Gurion read out the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel, to become effective one minute after midnight. Kleiman does not tell us what those final changes were, but if we look at the text of the Declaration we see that the references to the Partition Plan were restored. The Zionist leadership had changed its mind, putting the Partition Plan at the heart of the Declaration, it being mentioned in the following three paragraphs:

    On the 29th November, 1947 the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution calling for the establishment of a Jewish State in Eretz-Israel; the General Assembly required the inhabitants of Eretz-Israel to take such steps as were necessary on their part for the implementation of that resolution. This recognition by the United Nations of the right of the Jewish people to establish their State is irrevocable.


    THE STATE OF ISRAEL is prepared to cooperate with the agencies and representatives of the United Nations in implementing the resolution of the General Assembly of the 29th November, 1947, and will take steps to bring about the economic union of the whole of Eretz-Israel.

    These paragraphs make exaggerated claims about the Partition Plan resolution of the General Assembly:

    that the GA “called for the establishment of Jewish state in Palestine”; it did not, it recommended the partition of Palestine into a Jewish state and an Arab state in an attempt to find a solution for the ”Question of Palestine”
    that the GA “required” the inhabitants of Palestine to co-operate with the Plan: it did not, it called upon them to co-operate;
    that the GA recognized the “natural and historic right” of the Jews to establish a state in Palestine: no such right has ever been recognized, the Mandate for Palestine speaking only of the historic connection giving grounds for the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine.
    The intention is clearly to suggest that Israel’s unilateral declaration of independence was authorized by the United Nations. This is not correct. The UN Charter regulates the relationships between existing states who have chosen to become Members. The UN has no authority to create states, divide states or recognize states. Nor was it an implementation of the Partition Plan, which had envisaged the creation of two states in parallel stages under the supervision of the Palestine Commission.

    It is surprising how many people believe that Israel has never declared its borders, despite available evidence to the contrary in the form of Epstein’s letter to Truman, the text of which has been in the public domain since it was released to the world press on May 15, 1948. It can be found on the internet in the Truman Library and also in the Jewish Virtual Library. Many UN and Knesset documents of the time refer to the borders declared by Israel in 1948, as do the UN booklet The Question of Palestine and the United Nations (page 9) and even the Wikipedia article Borders of Israel.

    How is it possible that the fiction “Israel has never declared its borders” has become so widespread and persistent? It would be interesting to hear the views and experiences of readers.

  12. Doubtom on May 11, 2016, 12:45 am

    Oh, mercy me. Not a “fresh criticism”!!! How will Israel ever survive “a fresh criticism”? If that’s the best we can do why don’t we just STFU? The U.S. is pathetic, no,,,beyond pathetic in its ‘kid glove treatment’ of that land-stealing, occupier, Israel. Why not simply stop our support –I shouldn’t call it “our” support because the American public damn sure didn’t get to vote on this FOREVER annual donation of billions of our scarce dollars. The American government is lying to the American public about this relationship with Israel. The American public is tired of government lies and this year’s election is the proof that the game is over.

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