Last night, (30 March 2017) the Israeli cabinet approved three major advancements of settlements in the West Bank. The decisions include the establishment of a new settlement, deep in the West Bank and for the first time since 1991; the publication of tenders for nearly 2,000 housing units; and the declaration of almost 1,000 dunams as “public lands,” otherwise termed “state lands,” that will enable the retroactive legalization of 3 outposts, Palgei Maim, Givat Haroeh, and Adei Ad, all located north of Ramallah and deep in the West Bank.
Peace Now: “Netanyahu is held captive by the settlers, and chooses his political survival over the interest of the state of Israel. By giving in to settler pressure, Netanyahu is leading Israelis and Palestinians to a reality of one state and apartheid.”
1) The establishment of the new settlement on a hilltop referred to as “Geulat Zion,” will be the first time the government of Israel is creating a new settlement since 1991, with the exceptions of 3 outposts that were retroactively recognized as new settlements in 2012 (Bruchin, Rechelim and Sansana). The previous government decision on a new settlement was for Eshkolot in 1991, prior to the Interim Agreement between Israel and the PLO, otherwise known as the Oslo Accords. Geulat Zion, is located deep in the West Bank, east of Shilo, and will never be part of the state of Israel in the framework of an agreement. The location of Geulat Zion is strategic for the fragmentation of the West Bank, as it continues a stretch of settlements from the Green Line to the Jordan Valley, aiming to undermine the possibility of creating a viable Palestinian state.
The decision to establish a new settlement comes after the government reached an agreement with the settlers of Amona in December, in exchange for a non-violent evacuation. Initially the government suggested the settlers to establish a new settlement on a hilltop adjacent to Geulat Zion, however the latter refused. Despite their refusal, the government continued with the plan for that settlement and on February 15th it approved the creation of 98 housing units on the site, known as Shvut Rachel East.
2) The cabinet also decided to approve the publication of 10 tenders in 4 settlements for 1,992 housing units. The settlements are Alfei Menashe (698 housing units) Beitar Illit (612 housing units), Beit Arie (630 housing units), Karnei Shomron (52 housing units)., The government has already announced that it will advance these tenders on February 2nd. However, official publications of the tenders did not follow. Today, the Ministry of Housing published the tenders. Nevertheless, despite being published, the tenders will only be opened on late May.
3) Finally, the cabinet was updated on the upcoming declaration of a total of 977 dunams as “state lands” due to the work of the Civil Administration’s Blue Line Team that will enable the retroactive legalization of 3 outposts. The 3 outposts are Palgei Maim, Givat Haroeh, both located near Eli settlement, as well as Adei Ad, located east of Geulat Zion and near the Jordan valley. The Blue Line Team is a body within the Civil Administration of the IDF that is responsible for the declaration of public lands, otherwise termed “State Lands”, in Area C in the West Bank.