Welcome to FMEP’s Weekly Settlement Report, covering everything you need to know about Israeli settlement activity this week.
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March 1, 2019
- As Elections Approach, Here’s Two Settlement Plans Bibi Might Advance to Win Votes/Deflect Pressure
- Palestinians March in Hebron on Anniversary of Goldstein Massacre
- U.S. Charities Are Financing Radical, Violent Hilltop Youth Settler Movement
- Bonus Reads
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Terrestrial Jerusalem published a comprehensive analysis of how Jerusalem-related issues, including settlement plans, could become a factor in the current Israeli elections campaign. Danny Seidemann writes:
“On the eve of Israel’s national elections and the possible launching of Trump’s so-called ‘peace plan,’ concerns raised in January 2017 regarding the most sensitive and ambitious settlement and settlement-related projects are more relevant than ever…the common denominator to the issues on which we [Terrestrial Jerusalem] are focusing below is this: each is something of a banner under which the ideological right has decided to march. As a result, there is no doubt that these issues will figure prominently in election rhetoric, towards the goal of forcing an already susceptible Netanyahu’s hand.”
Seidemann goes on to lay out likely actions Netanyahu might take, including action on two specific settlement plans:
“E-1: E-1 is a settlement planned for an area on East Jerusalem’s northeastern flank (beyond the city’s municipal borders), designed to cement a contiguous block of settlements stretching from Maale Adumim to the city’s east, through Neve Yaacov and Pisgat Zeev to the north, and extending to Givat Zeev, to the northwest (download map here).We have described in several reports the dire threat the implementation of E-1 would cause to the two-state solution, primarily by dismembering a potential future Palestinian state into two non-contiguous cantons and sealing off East Jerusalem from its environs in the West Bank…implementation of E-1 today still depends solely on Netanyahu giving the green light for the publication of the plans. Once he does, the clock will start ticking toward construction; assuming Netanyahu and his government obey normal planning rules, this clock will run for up to a year — between the resumption of planning and the publication of tenders for construction. Once the green light is given, it will be very difficult (but not impossible) to prevent the publication of tenders.”
“Givat Hamatos: As we explained in our January 2017 analysis, plans for construction in Givat Hamatos have been fully approved, but tenders have not yet been published: tenders for the construction of up to 1500 of the 4500 units could be published literally at any time, based on the whim of Netanyahu. As elections approach, the chances that Netanyahu will give the order to publish these tenders rises exponentially — and the significance of him doing so cannot be overstated. In planning terms, the publication of tenders is a Rubicon that, once crossed, is a point of no return, since at that point, third-party rights (purchasers) become involved. In short, the publication of tenders, effectively, would make the construction of Givat Hamatos a virtual certainty. While E-1 is larger in scope and has greater notoriety than Givat Hamatos, the danger posed by the latter is in some respects greater. Assuming Netanyahu and his government follow normal planning rules on E-1, any decision he takes on E-1 will in effect by a trip-wire that will give the world as long as a year in which to engage to try to prevent actual construction. With respect to Givat Hamatos, a move by Netanyahu won’t be a trip-wire, but rather the beginning of a series of detonations that cannot be stopped.”
On February 22nd, hundreds of Palestinians and international activists led a march towards Shuhada Street in downtown Hebron to commemorate the 29 victims of Israeli-American settler Baruch Goldstein, who opened fire on worshippers in the Ibrahimi Mosque/Tomb of the Patriarch 25 years ago. The march was also a protest against Israel’s policy of segregation (a word that fails to capture the damage done to the fabric of Palestinian life in the heart of Hebron) that was implemented following the massacre. +972 Mag reports:
“…protestors marched toward Checkpoint 56, which separates the part of the city governed by the Palestinian Authority from the Israeli-controlled area. They carried signs calling for the return of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) – the only observer group in the city with an official international mandate. In late January, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided not to renew the group’s mandate, effectively expelling the observers from the city after 22 years of monitoring the human rights situation there…Israeli soldiers were stationed along the route of the protest, on the side of the city allegedly controlled by the PA, already before the protest began. When the crowd of demonstrators approached Checkpoint 56, soldiers pushed them back. At another checkpoint, close to the Tel Rumeida area, soldiers fired tear gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets at a group of protestors who were hurling stones – against the organizers’ request to keep the protest peaceful. Soldiers also fired stun grenades at a group of journalists.”
An investigation has revealed that a U.S. charity, The Charity of Light Fund, is the U.S. arm of an Israeli organization called Chasdei Meir that funds the radical and violent Hilltop Youth settler movement. Journalist Mairav Zonszein explains that Chasdei Meir, which is not registered as a tax exempt organization in Israel, recently issued a donation receipt thanking the donor (who made the donation in order to glean more information about the group’s operations) for “helping keep the residents of the outposts in Judea and Samaria warm.” Zonszein goes on to report:
“According to the Israeli outlet Ynet, Chasdei Meir has been linked to the coordination in 2011 of settler violence against Palestinians known as ‘price tag’ attacks, as well as financing settler youth who inhabit illegal settlement outposts and plant trees there as a way of claiming ownership over the land.”
Zonszein’s report lays out how Chasdei Meir and the Charity of Light Fund are part of a larger network of shadowy groups and figures that have found ways to direct U.S. tax-deductible donations to the settlement enterprise as well as groups that ascribe to the racist, nationalist ideology of Meir Kahane and the political party he founded, Kach. The Kach party, which is on the U.S. list of terrorist organizations, recently joined forces with Prime Minister Netanyahu, who brokered a political marriage between the Otzma Yehudit (“Jewish Power”) party, which is the current incarnation of the Kach party, and the Jewish Home party, in the hopes of winning sufficient votes to form a coalition that will keep him in power.