Welcome to FMEP’s Weekly Settlement Report, covering everything you need to know about Israeli settlement activity this week.
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October 11, 2019
- Israeli Government Data Shows 14,400 New Settlers Added in 2018
- Palestinian Landowners to Ask Israel to Evict Settlers from Illegal Outpost
- Masked Settlers Expand Reach of Hate Crimes Targets
- Congress Still On Board w/ Economic Peace Scheme & Rave About Settler Business Council
- ECFR Publishes “Differentiation Tracker” To Hold EU States Accountable for Their Policy Towards Occupation and Settlements
- Bonus Reads
Questions/Comments? Email Kristin McCarthy (email@example.com)
The Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics released new official data charting population growth in Israel and in the West Bank for 2018. Before diving into the numbers regarding settler population growth, it is essential to note that the data below does not specifically count the population of settlers in East Jerusalem or their growth rate as a discreet group. Instead, East Jerusalem settlers are treated as normal/everyday Israeli citizens, reflecting Israel’s assertion that it has annexed East Jerusalem, a claim which is rejected by the international community.
According to an analysis of the new data by Peace Now:
- The population growth rate in the settlements was 3.5% – almost double the growth rate in Israel proper (1.9%)
- The Jerusalem Post noted that this is the third year in a row that the settlement population growth rate has been 3.5% – reflecting stagnation.
- In 2018, the settler population in the West Bank grew by 14,400 individuals.
- 8,050 of the new settlers (56%) moved or were born in settlements that Israel would probably need to evacuate under a two-state peace agreement (according to the Geneva Initiative proposed border).
- There are a total of 427,800 settlers in the West Bank, not including East Jerusalem.
- According to Jerusalem expert Daniel Seidemann: “The most up-to-date and reliable statistics put the number [of Israeli settlers living in East Jerusalem] at about 218,000, of those 215,000 in large settlement neighborhoods, 2,700 in settlement enclaved implanted in Palestinian neighborhoods.” The approximate total number of settlers (West Bank + East Jerusalem) is therefore around 640,000.
- Settlers account for 14% of people living in the West Bank, not including East Jerusalem settlers.
Peace Now said in a statement:
“Thousands of new settlers have been added to the settlements this year with almost no attention or public discussion, even though this is a trend that could doom Israel’s fate to an ongoing conflict and an apartheid reality. Particularly worrying is that most of the settlers were added to the settlements that Israel would probably have to evacuate in order to reach a peace agreement. In order to save its existence, Israel would eventually have to end the occupation, yet any house built in the settlements is making evacuation more difficult and painful.”
Peace Now reports that Palestinian landowners in the Makhrour region west of Bethlehem are planning to file a police complaint demanding the eviction of the settlers from a new, unauthorized outpost that was recently established on their land. The new outpost – which, according to Peace Now is 1 of 25 new outposts set up since 2016 – is just 70 meters from the site of the recently demolished Palestinian Cassia family’s home and business.
In the weeks since the Cassia family’s eviction and the demolition of their property, settlers have moved in to the area and started illegally building structures. The settlers claim to have leased the land from the Jewish National Fund (more specifically, they claim to lease the land from Himanuta – a subsidiary of the JNF). The JNF claimed to have bought the land in the 1960s, but only recently brought forward ownership claims and began waging a legal battle against Palestinian landowners, including the Cassia family, to evict Palestinians living there. Helpfully, Peace Now has published a detailed history of settler attempts to takeover land in the Makhrour area, which is a strategic parcel of land that connects Bethlehem to five Palestinians villages to its west and also runs between a string of settlements to the immediate north and south of the area.
Peace Now said in a statement:
“Establishing the new 70m outpost on a Palestinian house destroyed by JNF pressure removes any doubt: When the JNF demanded the demolition of the Cassia family’s house, it didn’t mind illegal construction on the land it claimed; it just did not want Palestinians on the land. Now it leases the land to Israelis who have erected an illegal outpost on this land. Unfortunately, the Jewish National Fund has become a Jewish settler.”
As a reminder, the Cassia case is part of Himanuta’s long-running campaign to expel Palestinians from their homes in recent years, a campaign which has been reinvigorated over recent years in partnership with other pro-settlement groups including Elad and Regavim.
Palestinians in the village of Qira woke up on October 6th to find they were victims of a hate crime evidenced by hatefuly graffiti sprayed across their cars, buildings, and streets. Video footage would later show masked individuals entering the village in the middle of the night, and defacing property and puncturing car tires.
A local council head Aisha Nimr told Haaretz that this is the first time settlers targeted Qira with their hate crimes, which Nimr suggested signals a dangerous escalation in the Jewish settlers’ conduct. The Palestinian governor the Qira area called on all Palestinian communities near settlements to establish guard committees to protect themselves.
Members of a recent Congressional delegation to Israel led by Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), recently spoke on the floor of the House of Representatives to promote the work of the now infamous Judea and Samaria Chamber of Commerce (JSCC), a business council run by an Israeli settler, Avi Zimmerman, and a disgraced Palestinian businessman, Ashraf Jabari. Rep. McMorris Rodgers also stated that she will be asking the Trump Administration to support this group – and more broadly economic cooperation between settlers and Palestinians – as part of its peace plan.
As FMEP has repeatedly explained, initiatives like the JSCC perpetuate Israel’s economic exploitation of occupied territory (including the local workforce, land, and other natural resources). Labelling such initiatives as “coexistence” programs or suggesting that Palestinians should welcome the benefits of settlement economies is perverse.
Statements by members in support of this Orwellian organization and the fraudulent notion that they further peace in the region include:
Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.): “We were witnessing amazing cooperation between the Palestinians and the Israelis. For me, I just feel like it is the untold story. It is a story about opportunity and hope at a time when too many despair. It was the Palestinian business leaders and workers who told us that BDS hurts their ability to work and to provide for their families. They want economic freedom, not boycotts…We are going to be talking to the administration and urging them to include in any kind of a peace plan this economic cooperation and America standing in support of this bottom-up, grassroots approach that really makes a difference in people’s lives. We need to have the economic cooperation and encourage the economic cooperation between the Israelis and the Palestinian business leaders.”
Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Mo.): “We saw firsthand Israelis and Palestinians working together to promote peace and harmony. … Many of the Palestinians were making between three and four times what they would otherwise earn if they did not have this opportunity to have this integrated business that we saw going on in Israel. They were standing up to what I would call strong divisive forces that seek to vilify Israel and undermine its credibility as a force for peace.”
Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.): “You saw people, not nations, working together to make life better for their community.”
Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.): “It is good for Palestinians to be able to take advantage of the miracle of the Israeli economy—giving them that opportunity so that they can have a better life for them and their families. I hope that we in this country and we in this Congress do everything in our power to help these people grow economically in their businesses, but also to find that peace that only people-to-people actions can find for us all.”
ECFR Publishes “Differentiation Tracker” To Hold EU States Accountable for Their Policy Towards Occupation and Settlements
The European Council on Foreign Relations released a new online tool – – called “The Differentiation Tracker” – – to see if, and to what extent, member states of the European Union are complying with their own policies which require states to explcitly exclude Israeli settlements from dealings with Israel (i.e. uphold a hard distinction between Israel and the occupied territories). To learn more about what “differentiation” is – see this founding treatise published in October 2016 by ECFR.
ECFR’s Policy Fellow Hugh Lovatt explains the significance of the new tracking tool:
“Amid the failure of international efforts to curtail Israel’s policy of settlement and annexation of occupied territory, a fuller and more diligent implementation of legally necessitated differentiation measures remains one of the few effective means of defending the territorial footprint for a two state solution. In order to comply with UNSCR 2334, bilateral agreements signed with Israel should contain a ‘differentiation’ clause defining the territorial scope of an agreement’s application to within Israel’s pre-June 1967 borders (the ‘Green Line’). Correcting pre-existing agreements that have fallen short of such a requirement is undoubtedly more laborious but just as important.”
Along with the tracking tool, ECFR published analysis of the data. The main findings include:
- By differentiating between Israel and the settlements, the EU has acted as a trailblazer, setting down important markers for others to follow. Since December 2013, the EU has insisted on the inclusion of a differentiation clause within all new agreements with Israel. Yet the EU’s job is by no means finished and work remains to consistently apply its differentiation principle to all areas of its relations with Israel, including trade with settlements, police cooperation, cross-border data transfers, and marketing standards for fruit and vegetables.
- A number of European states have undertaken their own differentiation measures. One of the oldest examples can be found in the UK’s 1957 social security agreement – pre-dating the occupation – which limits its applicability to the “territory administered by the Government of Israel on the 19th of July, 1956”. The British government has also pledged to exclude the settlements in full from its new post-Brexit trade agreement. Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands too have also taken measures to exclude settlements from some aspects of their bilateral relations relating to social security, and research and development projects.
- Although harder to track, ECFR research indicates that in a few instances negotiations over new agreements (including new social security provisions) may have stalled over member state insistence, and Israeli refusal, on the inclusion of a differentiation clause. In 2017, the Israeli government also backed out of the EU’s ‘Creative Europe’ programme over its exclusion of Israeli settlements, although it signed onto other such deals before and after.
- A majority of EU member states have published advisories warning their businesses of the legal, financial and reputational consequences they could expose themselves to by dealing with Israeli settlement entities.
- Despite positive examples of differentiation measures, a majority of European bilateral agreements with Israel potentially benefit its settlements, their companies, and residents – including with regard to social security, taxation provisions, and the burgeoning cooperation in research and development. National governments have also done very little to enforce the European Commission labelling guidelines for settlement products.
- Of the 268 European agreements reviewed by ECFR, at least 158 were signed without any territorial definition defining their scope of implementation. A further 65 agreements contain either vague or ambiguous clauses, including definitions of Israeli territory according to ‘the laws of the State of Israel’ or ‘the territory where it levies taxation’ – descriptions that could justify the inclusion of Israeli settlements. Some of the most common agreements relate to social security, taxation, research and development, and financial investments.
- “Jerusalem Is Becoming a Jewish Disneyland, NYT’s Architecture Critic Warns” (Haaretz)
- “My Day With the West Bank Settlers Who Are Destroying Zionism” (Haaretz)
- “With or without Netanyahu, West Bank annexation is on Israel’s agenda” (The Arab Weekly)
- “Annexing the Jordan Valley Doesn’t Make Security Sense” (Haaretz)
- “Who do the settlers vote for? – Voting figures in Judea and Samaria in the 22nd Knesset elections” (Yesha Council)