Settlement & Annexation Report: September 22, 2023


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

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September 22, 2023

  1. Attention World Leaders: Israel is Violating International Law
  2. State-Backed Settler Terrorism Is Working
  3. Bonus Reads

Attention World Leaders: Israel is Violating International Law

With all eyes on the United Nations General Assembly meetings taking place in New York City this week – on the sidelines of which Prime Minister Netanyahu met with President Biden – several organizations have published incisive briefing documents in hopes of reminding world leaders of exactly how much Israel respects international law.

Peace Now published a briefing note – “Annexation as a Process in the Making: The First Nine Months of the Netanyahu-Smotrich-Ben Gvir Government” – chronologically detailing thirteen of the most significant acts of annexation and settlement expansion undertaken by the Israeli government in 2023. The briefing “outline[s] the key political decisions and actions taken by Israel during these nine months, highlighting how settlement expansion and the annexation became the central policy of the current Netanyahu-Smotrich-Ben Gvir government.”

Ir Amim published an overview of East Jerusalem settlement advancements thus far in 2023, documenting a total of 18,223 new settlement units being pushed through the planning process. See the full briefing for the history and context of each settlement, along with data tables and maps.

Ir Amim writes

These developments only continue to cement a one-state reality of permanent occupation and systematic oppression whereby one group is afforded full civil and human rights, while the other is deprived of those rights.

In Jerusalem, one of the most severe expressions of this reality is the deprivation of Palestinian housing rights exemplified by discriminatory urban planning policy which aims to engineer Jewish demographic dominance and push large portions of the Palestinian population out of the city. In contrast to the thousands of housing units advanced annually for Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem, residential development in Palestinian areas is systematically neglected, which undermines Palestinian rights to housing and serves as a lever of displacement.  

In the absence of equitable urban planning and housing solutions, Palestinians are either forced out of Jerusalem or compelled to construct homes without building permits, which subjects them to the threat of demolition. Between January 1-September 21, 2023, there have been 150 demolitions across East Jerusalem, 87 of which were homes. This marks a significant rise from 2022 for the same period.”

State-Backed Settler Terrorism Is Working

A new United Nations report is calling more attention to the large and growing scale of Palestinian displacement caused by settler violence. The report states that 1,105 Palestinians have been forced to leave their homes and land since 2022, all under coercive duress caused by unmitigated settler violence. The report documents:

  • 1,105 people from 28 Communities…have been displaced from their places of residence since 2022, citing settler violence and the prevention of access to grazing land by settlers as the primary reason
  • 93% of the Communities reported a higher frequency of settler violence and 90% reported that the severity of the settler violence had increased since the beginning of 2022….
  • In 81% of the Communities, residents had filed complaints with the Israeli Police in some or most of the settler violence incidents that they faced. However, only 6% of these community representatives were aware of any follow up actions being taken by the Israeli authorities.”

B’Tselem published a new paper – “The Pogroms Are Working: The Transfer is Already Happening” – documenting what this forced displacement looked like for six bedouin communities this year, explaining how Israeli policies and measures make life so untenable for these communities that they are forced to leave. B’Tselem writes:

“Israel works to make the lives of residents in communities located in areas it covets miserable to the point that they can no longer take it and uproot themselves, leaving their homes and land for the state to take. This policy is implemented using two parallel tracks. In one track – given a stamp of approval by military orders, legal advisers and the Supreme Court – the state evicts Palestinians from their land. In the other parallel track, settlers use violence against Palestinians, aided and abetted by state forces, and sometimes, with their participation. This policy has led to the forcible transfer of at least six communities, but many other communities throughout the West Bank experience the same brutality and are under an immediate threat of expulsion. 

This is an illegal policy that implicates Israel in the war crime of forcible transfer. International law, which Israel is obligated to respect and has undertaken to abide by, forbids the forcible transfer of residents of an occupied territory – no matter the circumstances. The fact that this particular case does not involve soldiers arriving at residents’ homes and physically forcing them out is irrelevant. Creating a coercive environment that leaves residents no other choice is sufficient to find Israel liable for this crime. 

These communities are not displaced because of some natural disaster or other unavoidable circumstances. It is a choice the apartheid regime is making in order to realize its goal of maintaining Jewish supremacy in the entire area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. This regime views land as a resource designed to serve the Jewish public only, and so land is, therefore, used almost exclusively for the development and expansion of existing Jewish settlements and the establishment of new ones. 

As such, resisting the ongoing transfer is a duty, and there is, obviously, no obligation to continue cooperating with the implementation of the policies that drive it. Growing segments of the Israeli public have recently declared their refusal to serve in the army in an undemocratic country. There is nothing more worthy of refusing than participating in the commission of a war crime and the implementation of a transfer policy.”

Bonus Reads

    1. “Palestinians’ new method of encroaching on Israeli territory: B&Bs” (Israel Hayom) [Alt Headline: “Settlers Furious Palestinians Are Developing Land They Want to Steal”]
    2. “Far-right Israeli Lawmaker Calls Settler Convicted of Murdering Palestinian Family ‘Holy Righteous Man’” (Haaretz)
    3. “Campaign for Settler Convicted of Murdering Palestinian Family Raises Over NIS 1 Million” (Haaretz)
    4. “Israeli Far-right Activists Disrupt EU Delegation’s Visit to West Bank” (Haaretz)
    5. “Palestinians Demand Israel-Saudi Deal Include Settlement Freeze, Increased Autonomy” (Haaretz