Settlement & Annexation Report: May 3, 2024


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

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May 3, 2024

  1. IDF Dismantles Outpost
  2. Smotrich Accuses Netanyahu of Freezing Settlement Construction, Despite Major Advances
  3. U.K. Sanctions Lehava, Hilltop Youth
  4. Bonus Reads

IDF Dismantles Outpost

On May 1, the IDF dismantled the illegal farming outpost Or Meir, which settlers built without permission on Palestinian owned land – as acknowledged by the Israeli government – north of Jerusalem. This outpost has been demolished several times in the past. The IDF demolished one house, a livestock pen, and a road that the settlers had built to the outpost. Six settlers were arrested during the operation.

Smotrich Accuses Netanyahu of Freezing Settlement Construction, Despite Major Advances

In a letter sent this week, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich accused Prime Minister Netanyahu of preventing the High Council for Planning from convening for a regular business since June 2023. This is despite the fact that the Council convened in March 2024 to approve massive construction in the Ma’ale Adumim, Efrat, and Kedar settlements. This of course also ignores the several other ways in which Israel has advanced its settlement enterprise in recent months, including a record number of declarations of state land, commencement of construction on the new settlement Ariel West, the forcible displacement of Palestinian communities from Area C, two significant precedent setting evictions in East Jerusalem, the retroactive legalization of existing illegal outposts, the expansion of nature reserves in the West Bank, the publication of tenders for the construction of a new settlement in East Jerusalem — just to name a few key actions in the past two months alone.

Smotrich wrote in the letter

“…the practice of approving construction plans only in response to terror attacks is inappropriate, in my opinion. The settlements must constantly be advanced…this reality, in which there is a de facto construction freeze when it comes to approving plans in Judea and Samaria, is unacceptable and untenable, and provides a prize for terror. I will no longer be able to accept it. It is unthinkable that these Hamas-ISIS Nazis who went out to commit a horrific massacre of Israeli citizens should receive the prize they wish, and harm our hold on areas of our birthplace in Judea and Samaria. The war which we are currently fighting teaches us that strengthening the settlements in Judea and Samaria is critical to the security of the State, and especially to towns along the ‘seam line,’ such as Kfar Saba, and the towns of Bat Hefer and many others, besides for the obvious importance inherent in developing areas of our land.

I demand that you [Netanyahu] approve the immediate meeting of the Supreme Planning Council in order to approve all of the ready plans for advancement, from a professional standpoint and in accordance with the needs of the settlement, and thus end the freeze on approval of construction plans which has been decreed on the settlements in Judea and Samaria for the past year.”

U.K. Sanctions Lehava, Hilltop Youth

The United Kingdom issued sanctions on four Israeli settlers and the radical Lehava settler organization as well as the Hilltop Youth settler group. 

This makes the U.K. the first state to sanction the Hilltop Youth as an entity, while adopting the sanctions previously imposed by the European Union on Lehava and the four individuals.

Lehava – a settler group run by Benzion Gopstein, a settler sanctioned by the U.S. – is an anti-miscegenation group, which opposes the intermarriage of Jews and Arabs/Palestinians. The Hilltop Youth group is not so much an entity as a movement of young, radical settlers dedicated to building outposts and pushing Palestinians off of land in the West Bank. The Hilltop Youth is known for their extreme violence and conflict with the Israeli authorities in the West Bank.

Bonus Reads

  1. “Israeli Army Slashes Number of Soldiers Guarding West Bank Settlements” (Haaretz)
  2. “Since the War Began, Entire Areas of the West Bank Have Been Emptied of Their Communities’ (Haaretz)
  3. “Israeli Settlers Aren’t Content With Expelling Palestinian Shepherds, They Also Steal Their Sheep” (Haaretz)
  4. “This Wasn’t an Uncontrolled Mob of Settlers. It Was a Well-orchestrated Assault” (Haaretz)
  5. “Shin Bet Arrests Israeli on Suspicion of Murdering Palestinian During Riots After Murder of Teen in West Bank” (Haaretz)