Welcome to FMEP’s Weekly Settlement Report, covering everything you need to know about Israeli settlement activity this week.
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**The regular FMEP Settlement & Annexation report is on break, and is planned to return around the first week of August. In the meantime, we are pleased to offer you links to the main settlement-related stories of the past week**
March 31, 2022
- Jerusalem & Al-Walaja
- West Bank Outposts
- Israeli Politics
- Ukraine Crisis & West Bank Settlements
- Further Reading
Palestinians Report 17-year-old Scalded, Hundreds of Uprooted Trees in Spike in Revenge Attacks (Haaretz 3/31/22)
Palestine cars vandalised with smashed windows, graffiti by Israel settlers (Middle East Monitor 3/31/22)
Israeli seriously wounded in terror stabbing near West Bank settlement (Times of Israel 3/31/22)
Tweet from ICG/s Mairav Zonszein 3/30/22 (with video): “Settlers armed with clubs entered the tiny village of Tuba in south Hebron hills, vandalized cars and threw rocks at homes. While everyone is focused on terror inside Israel, this kind of terror continues unabated”
Israeli settlers attack Palestinians across West Bank after shooting (Middle East Eye 3/30/22)
Three arrested for suspected vandalism against Palestinians following terror attack & 3 settlers arrested over vandalized Palestinian cars, ‘Jewish blood isn’t cheap’ graffiti (Times of Israel 3/30/22)
Israeli settlers uproot 170 olive trees near Nablus (WAFA 3/30/22)
Israeli Settlers Burn Cars of Palestinian Families in West Bank (Al Bawaba 3/29/22)
Five Vehicles Set Ablaze in Palestinian Village in Suspected Hate Crime (Haaretz 3/28/22)
Btselem Twitter thread (with video) 3/29/22: “On Sunday, shortly after midnight, settlers entered the village of Jalud in Nablus District. They stoned a village home and set fire to five cars that burned down entirely. This was one of 15 settler violence incidents documented by B’Tselem researchers within one week.Muhammad ‘Abbad (39), a father of six, recounted: ‘While watching TV, I heard noises outside the house and something hitting the window. I immediately went up to the roof to see what was going on and saw my car and my cousins’ cars on fire and settlers running towards the Esh Kodesh settlement. I called my cousins, and together we tried to put out the fire for more than an hour but couldn’t.’ ‘We couldn’t sleep, of course. We don’t feel safe. The settlers can come to our homes at any moment and attack us.’ ‘This isn’t the first time this has happened. On top of that, there’s the financial loss. I work in construction and had a lot of tools in the car.’”
Five Vehicles Set Ablaze in Palestinian Village in Suspected Hate Crime (Haaretz 3/28/22)
Jerusalem & Al-Walaja
Demolition Freeze in al-Walaja Case Remains in Place to Allow for Further Urban Planning Progress (Ir Amim 3/31)
Tweet from Daniel Seidemann: “The Israeli Supreme Court today deferrered further deliberations/a ruling on fate of 38 homes subject to demolition orders in the Palestinian village of Walajeh, at least until Nov 1. The Court appeared sympathetic to residents’ planning efforts. We dodged a bullet – for now.”
3/31 thread from @EUPalestinians – “1/2EUREP, MS & like-minded states attended a meeting with the heads of churches to discuss the ongoing settler occupation of the Little Petra hotel at the entrance of the Christian Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem, owned by the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate. 2/2Urge IL authorities to immediately deescalate the situation and take measures to fully protect the presence and heritage of the Palestinians and Christian community in East Jerusalem” [Also see thread in reply from B’Tselem’s Sarit Michaeli]
Greek Orthodox Church decries ‘extremist’ takeover of Jerusalem hostel (France 24 3/29/22)
Jewish Settlers Move Into Historic Building in Jerusalem’s Old City Christian Quarter (Haaretz 3/27/22)
West Bank Outposts
Settlers set up new outpost near Jericho Bedouin communities (WAFA 3/29/22)
A Huge Security Force Evacuated Two West Bank Outposts. Settlers Began Rebuilding Them the Next Day (Haaretz 3/25/22:) [also see this Twitter thread for context]
Terror attacks in Israel turn settlers against Bennett (Al Monitor 3/28/22) [Excerpt: “Disillusioned by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, the leaders of the settlers are now campaigning against what they perceive as an unprecedented freeze of settlement construction in the West Bank.“]
Settlement group to launch campaign aimed at toppling the government (Times of Israel 3/27/22)
Bennett speaks of West Bank, not Judea and Samaria, irking Israeli Right (Jerusalem Post 3/27/22)
Abbas urges Blinken to press Israel on settlements, settler violence (i24 News 3/27/22)
Ukraine Crisis & West Bank Settlements
Palestinian Authority PM: Israel ‘exploiting’ Ukraine crisis to boost settlements (Israel Hayom 3/24/22)
Israeli Settlers’ Grim Offer to Ukraine’s Jewish Refugees (Haaretz 3/27/22)
In the West Bank, segregated roads displace Palestinians (Norwegian Refugee Council 3/31/22)
In Every Corner of Palestine, There Is a Story of Dispossession (The Nation/Mohamed El-Kurd 3/30/22)
The Israeli Government’s Old-New Palestine Strategy International Crisis Group/US Middle East Project (3/28/22) — settlement-related excerpt below:
“…settlement expansion continues apace. On 27 October 2021, the Civil Administration in the West Bank authorised the construction of over 3,000 housing units in 25 Israeli settlements, most of them isolated and deep inside the territory. At the same time, Gantz has not evacuated settler outposts considered illegal under Israeli law, most prominently Evyatar, with Israel’s outgoing attorney-general in February 2022 removing any legal restrictions on plans for authorising a new settlement at the location. This settlement’s establishment in May 2021 provoked recurrent protests by Palestinians in Beita, a neighbouring village, in which the Israeli military killed at least seven demonstrators.
“Israel is also advancing settlement construction. In early January, local authorities approved 3,557 housing units in occupied East Jerusalem, including a new neighbourhood that will complete a southern ring that will ‘block the potential Palestinian continuum between Palestinian neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem and Bethlehem [in the West Bank]’.
“In addition, the government threatened to revive dormant plans to build in E1, an area in the West Bank adjacent to the large settlement of Ma’ale Adumim to Jerusalem’s east, which would divide the West Bank in half, severing north from south (that plan has been shelved for now, partly thanks to U.S. pressure). In the nine months since the Bennett-Lapid coalition assumed power, in addition to advancing new settlement plans, Israel began construction of a new settlement in Hebron, allocated significant new funds to settlements and started work on a new underpass designed to enable settlements’ growth by streamlining travel between them and Israel.
“The government has built on its predecessors’ legacy of West Bank settlement, propelled by a powerful settler movement that has been able to expand Israeli settlements, due to official support but also lack of effective opposition, and even without cabinet consensus behind a specific settlement plan. This dynamic finds its expression in master plans for roads and infrastructure, including piped water and sewage, that in turn enable construction of more settler housing in the West Bank and especially in and around Jerusalem, making a two-state solution increasingly difficult to envision.
“An Israeli expert on the master plans described them, overall, as ‘a one-state plan based on a single grid with integrated infrastructure. … A single sovereign takes all decisions in the territory between the [Jordan] river and the [Mediterranean] sea, and has integrated its bureaucracy in order to do so’.
“Tellingly, the plans’ issuing authority is Israel’s transport ministry, which has no jurisdiction in the occupied territories under international law; in the past, Israel’s military-civil government handled infrastructure development there.
“At the same time, the West Bank has seen an increase in settler aggression against Palestinians and their property, including during the October-November olive harvest.
“Settlers have acted with apparent impunity as the Israeli army largely stands by. Between 3 and 16 October 2021, the Israeli rights group Yesh Din recorded at least eighteen incidents of settler violence or vandalism, while B’tselem documented the destruction of at least 1,500 trees, mostly olive trees. The army has also periodically barred Palestinians from access to their land by declaring certain areas closed military zones. On 21 January 2022, a group of settlers armed with clubs attacked Palestinian villagers and Israeli rights activists who were planting trees in the West Bank village of Burin, leaving at least seven people injured. Israeli Public Security Minister Omer Bar Lev, deviating from Prime Minister Bennett’s undivided support of settlers, called the incident ‘organised activity by a terror group’ (and was castigated by most governing coalition members for doing so).
“Occupied East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood continues to be a major flashpoint, with frequent confrontations between Palestinian residents, on one side, and settlers and Israeli police, on the other, as Israeli efforts to uproot Palestinians continue. In October 2021, Israel’s Supreme Court, apparently understanding the gravity of the protests and the intense international pressure, postponed ruling on a lower court’s eviction order and instead offered the families concerned a ‘compromise, allowing them to remain in their home as tenants for fifteen years but without ownership rights. The families rejected the proposed deal; in early March, the court suspended the evictions. In January 2022, in another part of Sheikh Jarrah, Israeli forces evicted a family and demolished their home to make way for a court-approved municipal plan to build a school. In a third case, a family faced a court eviction order that was scheduled to be carried out in March, but in February the Jerusalem Magistrate Court froze it, ostensibly following police concerns about the timing, just ahead of Ramadan and amid persistent tensions.
“…Related events in Sheikh Jarrah have added fuel to the fire, however. In mid-February, far-right Knesset Member Itamar Ben Gvir reopened a makeshift office in the neighbourhood, claiming he was there to protect the settlers amid police passivity. Ben Gvir’s action provoked renewed protests and clashes, including a physical altercation between Joint List MK Ahmad Tibi and Jerusalem’s pro-settler deputy mayor, Arieh King. Israeli police used skunk water, tear gas and stun grenades to disperse Palestinian protesters, injuring at least fourteen, conducting arbitrary arrests and attacking journalists for trying to report on events at the scene. Police also arrested several Israeli settlers. A few days later, police forcibly dispersed Palestinians and Israelis protesting the evictions. In nearby Silwan, a hundred Palestinian families are also under threat of eviction on similar pretences.”