Settlement & Annexation Report: January 19, 2024


Welcome to FMEP’s Weekly Settlement Report, covering everything you need to know about Israeli settlement activity this week.

To subscribe to this report, please click here.

January 19, 2024

  1. Israel to Advance Plan for New Settlement in East Jerusalem, Extending Control of Southern Perimeter
  2. Settlers Establish Outpost on Privately Owned Land
  3. Settlers Ask PM to Treat Settlements Like Israel, & Prohibit Palestinian Laborers from Entering
  4. Bonus Reads

Israel to Advance Plan for New Settlement in East Jerusalem, Extending Control of Southern Perimeter

Ir Amim reports that the government of Israel is promoting plans for a new settlement on the southern slopes of the Sur Baher neighborhood in East Jerusalem. The plan for the new settlement – referred to as “Nofey Rachel” –  calls for 650 settlement units built on land that directly borders the boundaries of the recently approved “Lower Aqueduct” settlement plan. Together, Ir Amim explains

“these two settlements will isolate Sur Baher-Umm Tuba, fracturing it from the Palestinian space around it, inducing Beit Safafa to its northwest and Beit Sahour and Bethlehem in the West Bank to its south. As such, the new plan will extend the Israeli territorial continuum between Har Homa, the Lower Aqueduct, and Givat Hamatos, which further seals off the southern edge of East Jerusalem from Bethlehem and the southern West Bank.”

The plans for the Nofey Rachel settlement is just the latest proof of Israel’s accelerating efforts to secretly officially register land to settlers and settler organizations, land which the state has exercised custodial management of since 1948, at which time the land was abandoned by Jewish refugees. Under Israeli law, the state is obligated to manage these land parcels and properties in the interest of their original (Jewish) owners until the owners and/or their descendants are located and reclaim the land. Palestinian refugees of war are denied this same right. Ir Amim and Bimkom published a recent report – “The Grand Land Theft” – documenting how settlers and the Israeli state have worked together to deliver these lands – via the settlement of land title process – into the hands of settlers, even though the original landowners have never been located.

Ir Amim explains:

“Similar to the cases in Givat Shaked, Nof Zahav, and Umm Lysoon among others, the settlement of land title (SOLT) process is being strategically promoted on the precise bloc of land (#31786) designated for the new settlement in Sur Baher-Umm Tuba. Based on ongoing monitoring, the process was first initiated in the area in January 2022 and is now in its final stage, just prior to completion, which will lead to the registration of ownership rights in the Tabu (land record). As was the process in the aforementioned areas, the timing suggests that the state and setters are utilizing the land registration procedures to finalize land rights in preparation for advancement of new settlements. This further confirms that the process is being exploited to register land in East Jerusalem in the name of Jews and/or the state for the promotion of settlements, while contradicting the government’s claim that it is intended to promote property rights of Palestinians.”

Settlers Establish Outpost on Privately Owned Land

Peace Now reports that over the past year settlers have illegally uprooted hundreds of olive trees belonging to the nearby village of Qusra, located south of Nablus in the heart of the northern West Bank. In the aftermath of October 7th, settlers sought to fortify their control over the land by moving four prefabricated buildings onto the cleared land (a new outpost) and calling on the IDF to prevent Palestinians from reaching the remaining olive groves close to the settlement and its new outpost. Since then, settlers have undertaken illegal construction to expand and build new access and bypass roads near the settlement, and in December 2023 the IDF blocked off the main entrance to Qusra village.

Peace Now also reports that settlers have begun cultivating new land east of the settlement, which is privately owned land belonging to the Jorish village.

Peace Now said in a statement

“The isolated settlement of Migdalim is deep within Palestinian territory and poses a barrier to any future political agreement. The government does nothing to stop the ideological settlers who allow themselves to confiscate lands and damage Palestinian property, establishing facts on the ground that not only escalates security tensions in the area but also hinder any political solution between Israel and the Palestinians.”

Settlers Ask PM to Treat Settlements Like Israel, & Prohibit Palestinian Laborers from Entering

Fifty settler leaders penned an open letter to the Defense Minister Gallant and Prime Minister Netanyahu demanding that the severe entry restrictions on Palestinians laborers seeking to cross from the West Bank into Israel for work be extended to apply to Palstinians laborers seeking to enter the settlements for work. The call is for settlements to be treated as the legal equivalent of sovereign Israeli territory, making it not only openly racist but a call for de facto annexation.

At a Knesset meeting last week on this topic, MK Tzvi Sukkot said:

“l do not understand why there is still anyone who thinks that the lives of residents of Judea and Samaria are less important. Specifically in Judea and Samaria, workers are still allowed entry despite a report that 82% of them support terror and are themselves potential terrorists.”

In the immediate aftermath of the Hamas attack on October 7th, Israel banned all West Bank Palestinian laborers from entering Israel and Israeli settlements. In December 2023, the ban was partially lifted under pressure from factory and business owners located in the settlements. Between 8,000 and 10,000 Palestinians were then allowed to resume work in the settlements under enhanced security measures (conditions which treat every Palestinian as a would-be terrorist if not monitored incessantly). More than 150,000 Palestinian laborers worked in Israel proper prior to October 7th, and have not been allowed in since. This is having a massive impact on the West Bank economy, as well as Israeli economy.

Bonus Reads 

  1. “Israel’s Army Drafted and Armed Thousands of Settlers. Accounts of Their Violence Are Piling Up” (Haaretz)
  2. “Palestinians struggle to rebuild their lives after West Bank settler pogroms” (+972 Magazine)
  3. Israeli Wounded in Shooting Near West Bank Settlement, IDF Kills Three Terrorists” (Haaretz)
  4. Editorial | Israel’s Settler Government Is Fueling a West Bank Blowup” (Haaretz)
  5. Israel Wants a Palestinian Intifada in the West Bank” (Gideon Levy, Haaretz)
  6. “’On the Brink of Implosion’: Israeli Army Transfers Elite Unit Out of Gaza to West Bank” (Haaretz)