Welcome to FMEP’s Weekly Settlement Report, covering everything you need to know about Israeli settlement activity this week.
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June 21, 2019
- Court Awards Radical Settler Group Rights to Another Palestinian Home in Silwan, Evictions to Follow
- At Settler’s Urging, Silwan Streets To Be Named After Rabbis
- Who Profits Issues Critical Report on Industrial Zones in the West Bank, Slamming “Peace” Schemes Promoting Them
- B’Tselem Publishes New Resource on Israel’s Planned Mass Eviction of Palestinians from Wadi Yasul
- Greenblatt Supports Annexation, But Prefers Israel Hold Off Until U.S. “Peace Plan” is Presented
- Bonus Reads
Questions or comments? Contact Kristin McCarthy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Court Awards Radical Settler Group Rights to Another Palestinian Home in Silwan, Evictions to Follow
On June 18th, the Jerusalem District Court ruled that the radical Elad settler organization is the legal owner of an apartment and adjacent storefront in the Silwan neighborhood of East Jerusalem long inhabited by members of the Palestinian Siyam family. With the ruling, Elad can evict members of the Siyam family from the apartment and store – increasing settler control over the building where other members of the Siyam family will still live. The court also ordered the Siyam family to pay 10,000 NIS (~$2,700 USD) in court costs.
Elad has waged an eviction campaign against the Siyam family for over 30 years, bringing six different legal cases asserting the organization’s ownership of the building. Making the ruling sting even more for the entire Silwan community, Jawad Siyam – who will be one of the only remaining Palestinian apartment owners living in the building after the ruling this week – is a prominent community activist in Silwan fighting against settlement activities in the neighborhood.
The legal saga – detailed here by Peace Now – shows just how determined Elad has been to gain ownership of the building at the expense of its longtime Palestinian tenants. Elad used seemingly every legal mechanism available, hoping that one would do the trick. Fortunately for Elad, the Israeli Custodian of Absentee Property General (which conspired with Elad to legally sell the rights to ¼ of the building) and Israeli court system (which allowed Elad to exploit Israeli law and set new precedents at the expense of Palestinian residents of Jerusalem) were willing to help the settler organization achieve its goal.
Following an earlier ruling against the Siyam family regarding this same case, Peace Now succinctly explained:
“This case is an example of how the settlers manage to take control of Palestinian property in East Jerusalem by combining manipulations, money, forgery and significant aid from the Israeli authorities. It is not a regular case between equal sides, but a story of David and Goliath, and the settlers are the Goliath. There is a settlers organization with almost unlimited financial resources and enormous political power against an ordinary Palestinian family that has been forced into court for more than 20 years, to invest tremendous resources in legal defense and to deal with various and varied purchase claims. This way the settlers are causing great damage to Israel when they harm the delicate fabric of life in Jerusalem and the possibility of compromise in Jerusalem and a two-state solution.“
As FMEP chronicles on a near weekly basis, Silwan is one of the most intense areas of settlement activity in East Jerusalem. Its location – literally in the shadow of the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif – and historic significance make the neighborhood the focus of intense efforts by radical groups like Elad and Ateret Cohanim to displace Palestinians and replace them with Israeli Jews.
In addition to the threat of mass eviction of Palestinians in Silwan, Elad and Ateret Cohanim are also working hand in hand with the many branches of the Israeli government to build tourist attractions and infrastructure designed to hide, marginalize, and over-write the presence and history of the area’s Palestinians. In particular, the Elad-linked cable car project – which was recently advanced through another phase of the planning process despite professional objections – is intended to further entrench settler activities and tourism sites inside Silwan, while simultaneously delegitimizing, dispossessing, and erasing the Palestinian presence there.
In a powerful statement of contempt for Palestinians residents of the Silwan neighborhood of East Jerusalem, and an equally powerful statement of support for the activities and agenda of hardline settlers groups targeting of Silwan, the naming committee of the Jerusalem Municipality voted to name five streets in the Silwan neighborhood of East Jerusalem after deceased Jewish rabbis. Notably, the population of Silwan remains overwhelmingly Palestinian, despite a decades-long, energetic effort by extremist Jewish groups, with Israeli government support, to increase the number of Israeli settlers living in their midst – an effort that is proceeding with greater energy and government backing today than perhaps at any time since 1967.
The renaming of the streets was opposed by a professional advisory panel, which warned that the move will increase tensions; that it will be essentially futile, because the names will not be used by the local population; and that, most basically, “it is inappropriate to give Jewish street names in neighborhoods overwhelmingly populated by Arabs.”
Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Leon heads the committee that decided in favor of renaming the streets, an initiative led by the radical settler group Ateret Cohanim. Settlers requested the move in recognition of a small Jewish-Yemenite community that lived in Silwan 80 years ago.
Who Profits Issues Critical Report on Industrial Zones in the West Bank, Slamming “Peace” Schemes Promoting Them
In a new report, the anti-occupation Israeli NGO Who Profits examines the illegality of 91 industrial zones that Israel has built in the occupied territories, and also names international corporations operating in them, in contravention of international law.
Summing how the issue relates to current politically driven “peace” proposals, Who Profit writes:
“Industrial Zones are held up by corporations and Israeli politicians as being part of the framework of ‘economic peace’. It is argued that they provide employment opportunities for Palestinians and form spaces of interaction and coexistence between Palestinian and Israeli workers. Shraga Brosh, the head of the Manufacturers Association of Israel, noted that the employment of Palestinian workers ‘aids security in the region and advances economic peace’. This claim was rejected outright by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in a 2018 report and by some 82% of Palestinian workers who stated that they would leave their jobs in the settlements, if there were another choice.”
In a new brief, B’Tselem provides essential context for Israel’s imminent eviction of Palestinians living in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Wadi Yasul, where every single home has a standing demolition order issued against it. The publication also includes interviews with several of the Palestinians whose homes in Wadi Yasul have already been demolished.
“Ever since 1967, planning policy in Jerusalem has been geared toward establishing and maintaining a Jewish demographic majority in the city. Under this policy, it is nearly impossible to obtain a building permit in Palestinian neighborhoods. The outline plans the city has prepared for these neighborhoods are largely aimed at restricting and limiting building opportunities in Palestinian neighborhoods. One way the plans do so is by designating vast areas as open green spaces, thereby barring Palestinians from building there. The resulting housing shortage forces Palestinian residents to build without permits. At the turn of the millennium, the city estimated that about 20,000 housing units had been built without a permit in East Jerusalem. This estimate was made before the Separation Barrier cut off Kafr Aqab and Shu’fat Refugee Camp from the city. Since that time, many high-rises have been built in those areas.”
In an interview is an Israeli news outlet, U.S. Envoy Jason Greenblatt said he would prefer that Israel delay annexation of the West Bank until after the U.S. presents the long-anticipated “Deal of the Century.” The interview was one in a series of media hits for Greeblatt ahead of the U.S.-conceived economic conference in Bahrain; at an event with New York Times columnist Bret Stephens and American provocateur Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, Greenblatt reiterated his belief that settlements are not an obstacle to peace.
Unsurprisingly, Israeli political figures continue to call for Israel to take advantage of Trump’s tenure in office to annex West Bank territory. At the Jerusalem Post’s recent conference in New York City, Israeli Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Hotovely told the audience that it is time for Israel to apply sovereignty over all of Area C. Hotovely made the case:
“Using the term annex is not true. You annex something that is not yours. This is not a story of annexation. This is a story of realization. Many ask what’s next, what’s going to happen, what’s going to change [after the annexation of Area C]. For 52 years, we were feeding this myth of occupation. It’s a myth. It’s not true.”
Former Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked also spoke at the Jerusalem Post conference, also urging Israel to annex Area C while Trump is in office. Following her speech, Shaked tweeted:
“There is no better time than now. Do not miss Trump’s reign – that’s what I just said at the Jerusalem Post in New York.”
Back in Israel, senior Likud figure Gidon Saar tweeted:
“Recent statements by senior US officials indicate that there’s an extraordinary window of opportunity to apply Israeli law to our settlements in Judea, Samaria, and the Jordan Rift. We’ll do everything not to squander [the opportunity].”