Settlement & Annexation Report: September 2, 2021


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

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September 2, 2021

  1. Israel Announces Next Steps for E-1 Settlement Construction
  2. Bonus Reads

Israel Announces Next Steps for E-1 Settlement Construction

On August 29th, the Israeli High Planning Council announced that it will take up consideration of plans to build the E-1 settlement, in the context of two hearings scheduled for October 4th and October 18th. This stage of the planning process is where objections filed by the public against the plan will be heard and discussed by the Israeli High Planning Committee (a body within the Israeli Defense Ministry responsible for regulating construction in the occupied West Bank). Once all objections have been dealt with (e.g., rejected, or addressed via changes in the plan), the Committee can grant final approval for construction.

Ir Amim writes:

The discussion of objections constitutes one of the final stages in the plans’ approval. While it is unclear who initiated the discussion, it is unlikely to have happened without the knowledge and approval of both the Israeli Minister of Defense and Prime Minister. Advancement of the plans comes just days after Israeli Prime Minister Bennett met with US President Biden in Washington where Biden underscored the necessity to refrain from measures which inflame tensions and reaffirmed his support for the two-state solution. Construction in E1 has long been regarded as a death blow to the two-state framework and threatens to displace roughly 3,000 Palestinians living in small Bedouin communities in the area, including Khan al-Ahmar.”

The October 4th and 18th hearings are being called to discuss the joint objection to the E-1 plan that was filed in August 2020 by several Israeli NGOs including Peace Now, Ir Amim, and the Association of Environmental Justice in Israel. That organizations cite a litany of problems including dire economic repercussions, as well as the inherent inequality and discrimination of planning this community for Israelis. 

As a reminder: In its current form, the E-1 plan provides for the construction of 3,412 new settlement units on a site located northeast of Jerusalem. The site is home to several Palestinian bedouin communities, including Khan al-Ahmar, which Israel has already undertaken many attempts to forcibly displace. Long called a “doomsday” settlement by supporters of a two-state solution, construction of the E-1 settlement would sever East Jerusalem from its West Bank hinterland, preventing East Jerusalem from ever functioning as a viable Palestinian capital. It would also cut the West Bank effectively in half, isolating the northern West Bank from the southern West Bank and foreclosing the possibility of the establishment of a Palestinian state with territorial contiguity. 

Israel’s “answer” to the latter criticism has long been to argue that Palestinians don’t need territorial contiguity, and that new roads can instead provide “transportational continuity.” To this end, Israel has already built the so-called “Sovereignty Road” – a sealed road that enables Palestinians to pass through, but not enter, the E-1 area. That road is wholly under Israel’s control (meaning Israel can cut off Palestinian passage through it at any time). In January 2021, then-PM  Netanyahu promised to increase funding for the Sovereignty Road as part of the drive to get E-1 built.

And another reminder: there have been attempts to promote the E-1 plan since the early 1990s, but due to wall-to-wall international opposition, the plan was not advanced until 2012, when Netaynuahu ordered it to be approved for depositing, ostensibly as pay back for the Palestinians seeking recognition at the United Nations. Following an outcry from the international community, the plan again went into a sort of dormancy, only to be put back on the agenda by Netanyahu in February 2020, when he was facing his third round of elections in the two years. 

Also, as a reminder: under the Trump Plan (which the Biden Administration has yet to comment on), the area where E-1 is located is slated to become part of Israel.

Noting the timing of the news on E-1 – which came just two days after Prime Minister Bennett met with President Biden in the White House – Jerusalem expert Daniel Seideman tweeted:

For 25 years, Israel was deterred and  didn’t dare approve E-1. Until now. It’s good to see how attentive PM Bennett is to Pres. Bidens’s call for restraint.”

Commenting on the imminent advancement on the E-1 plan Peace Now said:

“This plan poses a real threat for the chance for peace thus has gained sharp opposition in Israel and internationally. The Bennett Lapid government has glorified itself in turning a new page with the world and the citizens of Israel, but promoting the plan in E1 shows the opposite and will bring us back to the dangerous policies furthered by Netanyahu. The Minister of Defense can and must freeze this plan so that the Israeli interest is safeguarded and a wrong prevented.”

Bonus Reads

  1. “Home Invasions and False Arrests: What Happens to a Palestinian Who Protects His Land” (Haaretz)
  2. “Helping hand: Israeli forces in the service of Jewish settlers” (Al Jazeera)
  3. “‘I thought I would die’: Settlers abduct, brutally attack Palestinian teen in West Bank” (+972 Mag)
  4. “To Enjoy Peace and Security, Israel Must Consider the Palestinians” (Haaretz Editorial)
  5. “ President Biden: Don’t Fall for the Israeli-Palestinian ‘Economic Peace’ Fallacy” (Newsweeks // Dahlia Scheindlin
  6. “Opinion: Israel’s prime minister is not seeking a reset. He just wants more cover for apartheid and colonization.” (Washington Post // Noura Erakat)