Settlement & Annexation Report: March 1, 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.

March 1, 2024

  1. Israel Declares 652 Acres of “State Land” Near Ma’ale Adumim Settlement & E-1 Site
  2. Israel Approves Municipal Boundaries for Outpost to be Authorized as a New Settlement
  3. Defense Ministry Demolishes Two Outposts
  4. Settlers Enter Gaza During Rally at Erez Crossing
  5. Settler Head Calls for Genocide Against West Bank Palestinians – Akin to Gaza – In Response to Palestinian Attack Near Eli Settlement
  6. Blinken: New Israeli Settlements are Inconsistent with International Law
  7. Bonus Reads

Israel Declares 652 Acres of “State Land” Near Ma’ale Adumim Settlement & E-1 Site

On February 29th, the Israeli Civil Administration announced that it had declared 652 acres of West Bank land south of the Ma’ale Adumim settlement to be “state land,” bringing it under the management of the Israeli state and preparing it for the possibility of settlement construction. The land had previously been designated as part of the E-1 settlement plan, even though Israeli law does not allow Israel to plan construction on land that is not under its management. Additionally, this land is located between the Ma’ale Adumim and the Kedar settlement to its south, if construction indeed takes place – the two settlements (which both received planning advancements last week) could be connected.

Palestinian landowners have 45 days to submit an objection to the Israeli military to challenge the declaration. The land previously belonged to the Palestinian towns of Abu Dis and Al-Azaria, but it had not been formally registered in the Land Registry at the time Israel suspended registration proceedings in 1968. The land was registered in the property tax books of the villages, but these records are not accepted by the state of Israel as proof of ownership unless the land has been continuously cultivated (which, in a lot of cases, is impossible given Israeli restrictions and settlements). 

Three Palestinian bedouin communities currently live in the area – the Abu Nuwar, Wadi Abu Al-Suwan, and the Abu Hindi communities – totalling 1,000 people. Since arriving on these lands in the 1970s after being forced to flee their land in Israel, these communities have been regularly targeted by Israeli policies designed to force them to once again pack up and leave.

Peace Now said in a statement

“Instead of planning for a future of peace and security, the Israeli government continues to further the occupation and dispossession by perpetuating the conflict and bloodshed. Expropriating thousands of dunams of land from Palestinian communities demonstrates how settlements are already negatively impacting Palestinian lives and are not just a future problem or obstacle to a political solution. Construction in settlements must be halted immediately, regardless of negotiations and political arrangements.”

Israel Approves Municipal Boundaries for Outpost to be Authorized as a New Settlement

On February 27th Bezalel Smotrich announced the approval of municipal boundaries for the retroactive legalization of the illegal farming outpost known as Mitzpe Yehuda. The outpost-turned-settlement has been named Mishmar Yehuda, and is located east of Bethlehem and south of the Ma’ale Adumim settlement. Peace Now reports that the Israeli Ministry of Housing has already contracted architects and planners to continue advancing the settlement plans, which holds potential for over 13,000 new settlement units housing approximately 65,000 settlers. The next step in the planning process is for Smotrich’s “Settlement Administration” to prepare a Master Plan for the construction.

Celebrating the announcement, Smotrich said:

“We came to this land to build and to be built up in it. We will continue the settlement momentum throughout the land. Congratulations to Gush Etzion, congratulations to the settlements, and congratulations to the State of Israel.”

In February 2023, the Israeli Security Cabinet issued a decision to retroactively legalize ten illegal outposts including Mitzpe Yehuda. The approval of a jurisdiction is the carrying out of this order. At the time, Haaretz reported that a source said the Cabinet chose these outposts for authorization specifically because they are all located in remote or isolated locations — meaning they could not be “legalized” via expanding the borders of a nearby settlement and declaring the outposts to be merely neighborhoods of those “legal” settlements (a legal maneuver Israel has repeatedly used to expand settlements and retroactively legalize settlements). This means, among other things, that legalization of these 10 new settlements will likely lead to additional land seizures for related infrastructure work (work that was not legally possible until now).

Defense Ministry Demolishes Two Outposts

The Times of Israel reports that the IDF demolished two farming outposts this week: Sde Yonatan and Or Mier. Both are built on privately owned Palestinian land, and both have been repeatedly dismantled by the IDF.

Settlers Enter Gaza During Rally at Erez Crossing

On February 29th while dozens of Israeli settlers gathered at the Erez Crossing point into Gaza to rally for the reestablishment of Gaza settlements, several individuals “violently” broke through the IDF checkpoint and entered Gaza. Some of the settlers made it 500 meters past the IDF checkpoint before being caught by the IDF. Nine were arrested by Israeli police for violating a closed military order, though none have been charged.

Other settlers participating in the protest built two rudimentary structures, which they said are meant to be for “New Nisanit”, which settlers want to establish in northern Gaza in the area where the Nisanit settlement stood prior to 2005, when the Israeli government dismantled it along with 21 other settlements. The campaign to reestablish settlements in Gaza is being led by the Nachala organization, which called on its followers to bring “appropriate gear” and “sleeping bags” to the protest this week. As became clear in January 2024, the Nachala has thousands of supporters, including at least 12 Israeli government ministers and 15 members of Knesset – all of whom attended Nachala’s recent conference entitled “Conference for the Victory of Israel – Settlement Brings Security: Returning to the Gaza Strip and Northern Samaria.”

Israel has kept the Erez Crossing point closed, even to humanitarian aid, since October 7th – despite increasing international pressure to allow the entry of needed supplies.

Settler Head Calls for Genocide Against West Bank Palestinians – Akin to Gaza – In Response to Palestinian Attack Near Eli Settlement

On February 29th, two Israelis were killed by a Palestinian shooting in an attack near the Eli settlement. In addition to the typical responses from the Israeli government (calling for more settlements, more checkpoints, road closures, and retribution against the attackers family), the head of the Binyamin Regional Council, Israel Gantz, called for the Israeli government to launch a West Bank operation like the one it is waging in Gaza – which the International Court of Justice said is plausibly genocide. 

Haaretz reports that Israel Gantz said:

 “the terrorism here and in Gaza is the same terrorism, with the same terrorists and the same ambitions. It is necessary to mount a crushing attack on the West Bank, enter the city centers, destroy infrastructure and get rid of terrorists just like in Gaza.”

Blinken: New Israeli Settlements are Inconsistent with International Law

Responding to questions at a news conference in Buenos Aires on February 23rd, U.S. Secretary of State said that the Biden Administration believes new Israeli settlements are “inconsistent with international law” – a statement which is being widely interpreted as a reversal of the so-called “Pompeo Doctrine.” Blinken’s statement of illegality was in relation to new settlements, but he later went on to say that the Biden Administration “maintains firm opposition to settlement expansion,” explaining that it weakens Israeli security.

White House National Security Adviser John Kirby later said:

“We [the Biden Administration] are simply reaffirming the fundamental conclusion that these settlements are inconsistent with international law… this is a position that has been consistent over a range of Republican and Democratic administrations.”

Blinken was sharply criticized by former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former Ambassador to Israel under Trump, David Friedman. Friedman recently published a proposal outlining Israeli annexation of the West Bank “in accordance with biblical prophecy and values.” The plan calls for granting Palestinians permanent residency but no voting rights. Friedman cites the U.S. rule of Puerto Rico as an example.

Bonus Reads

  1. “Settler Colonial Spillover of the Gaza Genocide” (Al-Shabaka)
  2. LISTEN – “Settler Colonial Spillover in the West Bank with Fathi Nimer” (Rethinking Palestine by Al-Shabaka)
  3. “‘They took our home, our land, everything’: Palestinians displaced by illegal settlers tell their stories” (The Guardian)
  4. “The Israeli Settlers Attacking Their Palestinian Neighbors” (The New Yorker)
  5. Sparking the Next War? Any Restrictions to Al Aqsa Imposed During Ramadan Will Violate Muslim Freedom of Worship & Liable to Foment Unrest” (Ir Amim)
  6. “In Israeli-occupied Hebron, Palestinians describe living in ‘a prison’” (Washington Post)