Reports in the last two days expose that the Defense Minister Ya’alon has ordered the eviction of three army bases in order to allow the expansion of settlements. According to additional reports, Yaalon has also ordered to promote new bypass roads and public buildings in settlements. This is not surprising as we get closer to the Likud primaries and Yaalon and other ministers are trying to please the extreme right wing memebrs of Likud, who has a lot of power in the party.
A. The eviction of army bases:
According to the reports, the evicted army bases should be moved to private Palestinian lands that will be seized for military use. According to the laws of occupation, an occupier is allowed to temporary seize lands for security or military needs. However, it is clear that in this case it will not be the security need that lead to the seizure of the land, but the settlement need to expand. If implemented, we believe that the military would claim that it was all about military constrains and that it might be hard to convince the court that it was actually for settlements.
According to the reports there are three Military bases that are planned to be moved for the expansion of the settlements.
1. Ashmoret Yizhak compound in near Kiryat Arba, Hebron: In the past the Ministry of Housing built a compound of some 36 housing units near Kiryat Arba on lands that were declared as State Lands. Eventually, the border police moved in the compound leaving the settlers of Kiryat Arab frustrated.
Settlers have been pushing for years to “return” the compound to their hands and the reported order of Yaalon to evict the place could mean that we will see the settlers replacing the soldiers in the near future. The compound is outside of the buildup area of Kiryat Arba, and establishing the settlement there will expand the settlement to a new area and will affect the private Palestinians lands between it and the settlement.
2. Military Base in Alei Zahav – like in many other settlements, inside the settlement of Alei Zahav, there is a small Military base taking approx. 4 dunams (1 acre). Moving the base out will allow the development and expansion of the settlement, although it will not constitute a major change in the settlement.
3. The Border Police base near Beit El – as part of the agreement between Netanyahu and the settlers following the eviction of the 5 buildings in the Ulpana Hill, there were reports that Netanyahu ordered to promote the eviction of the compound to allow a new neighborhood for Beit El. We received contradictory information from the Civil Administration regarding the status of the lands on which the army base is built: on the one hand the seizure order from the 1970’s for the establishment of the military base includes the lands of the Border Police base, which means that the lands were privately owned by Palestinians. On the other hand, in some of the maps we received from the Civil Administration, the lands are marked as registered as State Lands.
In any case, the construction of a new neighborhood on private lands might be legally problematic because the seizure is only allowed for military needs and not for settlements. This is why we believe that it is likely that somehow the lands of the army base were registered as state lands in the past.
B. Promotion of bypass roads and public buildings in settlement
The reports about the decision of Yaalon to promote bypass roads and public buildings in settlements might be connected to the agreement of Netanyahu with the settlers that was recently exposed, and then reportedly torpedoed by Finance Minister Lapid.
The two bypass roads, Al-Arrub (north of Hebron) and Hawara (south of Nablus) could dramatically ease the access of the settlers to the settlements in the area, thus lead to further expansion of the settlements in the area (see maps and details here). The plans for both of the roads have already been approved in the past and it is a matter of budget and ministerial decision for it to be implemented, which might have just been given by Minister Yaalon.
As for public buildings – this can be from synagogues to schools, kindergartens etc. in the settlements, we don’t have any further details about it.