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Peace Now Report: 3000 Illegal Israeli Settlers in West Bank

Reuters Report

Peace Now Releases New Settlement Report

West Bank Outpost Palgei Mayim

See the articles written in the Israeli, American, and International Press covering the Peace Now Settlement Report

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – February 21, 2007
CONTACT: Ori Nir – (202) 728-1893

APN to Bush: Urge Israel to Halt Settlement Construction

Washington, D.C – Underscoring the findings of the annual report on settlements and outposts in the West Bank published today by the Israel’s Peace Now movement, Americans for Peace Now called on the Bush administration to urge the Israeli government to fulfill its commitments to halt settlement activity and to remove illegal settlement-outposts.

Peace Now’s report on Israeli settlement activity in 2006 shows that despite repeated commitments that successive Israeli governments made to the U.S. to stop the expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and to remove the illegal outposts, construction in West Bank settlements continued in the past year. Furthermore, not one of more than 100 inhabited illegal outposts was removed.

“As a Jewish, Zionist organization that strives to bolster Israel’s security through peace, we have long believed that continued settlement activity undercuts efforts to achieve peace and security,” said Debra DeLee, APN’s president and CEO. “Regrettably, the Israeli government has not made good on its commitments to address settlement construction and outposts, and the Bush administration doesn’t seem to recognize the importance of this issue.”

The settlement enterprise, DeLee explained, “jeopardizes efforts to bring about a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, unnecessarily burdens the Israeli Defense Forces and Israel’s government budget, and weakens support for moderate leaders and for America’s regional allies.”

The report, which sums up Jewish settlement activity in the occupied territories during 2006, this year for the first time includes data on the population of illegal outposts in the West Bank. These are proto-settlements, which were constructed in recent years without Israeli government approval. Typically, they start off as a handful of mobile homes, but often – and last year more than ever before – the prefabs are replaced by permanent construction. According to the report, prepared by Peace Now’s Settlement Watch Team, some 2,000 people live in 102 outposts throughout the West Bank. Israel’s government has repeatedly committed – to the U.S. government, to the international community and to Israeli courts – to dismantle illegal outposts. However, not even one populated outpost was removed in 2006.

The only significant action against outposts in 2006 followed an Israeli High Court decision on a petition filed by Peace Now. In this instance, Israel’s legal authorities ordered the government to stop the construction of nine buildings on privately owned Palestinian land at the outpost of Amona. Following the Court’s action, the Israeli government destroyed the nine buildings.

The report also shows that in this past year – the first year of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s Kadima-Labor government – construction in settlements continued at a similar pace to that of 2005. In 2006, tenders were issued for the construction of 952 housing units in settlements, compared with 1,184 in 2005. Some 1,272 construction projects were launched in the first nine months of 2006 (an annual rate of 1,700), compared with a total of 1,727 launches of construction projects in 2005.

An English language summary of the report is available HERE

4 comments on “Peace Now Report: 3000 Illegal Israeli Settlers in West Bank

  1. Jack
    23 February, 2007

    Hi PG!

    Maybe you can help me understand this. Why are the settlements illegal? Also, in the name of diversity why don’t the Palestinians welcome these settlers? Here in the United States we welcome all races and ethnic backgrounds. We even let people settle here illegally and live with us (there are an estimated 20 million illegals here). Do you think that the United States should destroy these illegals, their homes, their jobs, their families, etc.? Kick them out? Shouldn’t a lot more effort be devoted to teaching the Palestinians to be more tolerant of those different from themselves?


  2. peoplesgeography
    23 February, 2007

    Hi Jack,

    Great to hear from you and glad you asked. You’ve got it right, I’d say, but the other way around, my friend.

    The Palestinians have had no problem living with others. It’s the Israelis that have been the antithesis of welcoming.

    The Holy Land has been a multireligious place for centuries and Palestinians (both Christians and Muslims) and Jews coexisted for ages before the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948.

    The Zionists (a political, not a religious movement to establish the state of Israel as a Jewish state) have sought to exclusively Judeocise the land, and expelled and killed thousands of Palestinians who had been there for centuries.

    After establishment, Israel fortified itself, and some Palestinian Arab residents were “caught” inside, they now number about a fifth of Israel and the racists in Israel are worried that with demographic trends they will threaten the “Jewish” character of Israel, and have enacted several racist apartheid laws that discriminate eg family reunions, Jew only roads.

    These settlements are illegal for a good reason. They further encroach upon Palestinian land and make a contiguous future Palestinian state nigh on impossible. The Palestinians would be reduced to bantustan pockets, the land of swiss cheese holes. If these settlers came as normal migrants there wouldn’t be a problem. Rather they are encouraged to come, usually from eastern Europe and not at all familiar with the region, to maintain Israel’s Jewish population, and this literally results in more house demolitions of Palestinian homes, and threatens peace by preventing a future Palestinian state.

    The equivalent in the USA is not letting illegals in, but the entry of those illegals resulting in the destruction of your home and many others to make way for them and expelling you. Your rights would be superseded by theirs, and simply because they were of a particular religious background. Further, the Israeli state has been building an illegal wall that further cuts into Palestinian land, it has sought to take the best and most fertile land, as well as stealing its neighbours resources (water, soil) in service to its supremacist ideology of a hegemonic greater Israel state. This is what is happening in the OPT daily and I’d be happy to detail this further.

    In the United States, regional peace could be helped by correcting the entirely distorted and absurdly one sided Zionist narrative and view of history. Fortunately, some movement towards this has started with establishment figures like President Carter correcting the record.

    Israel’s state crimes against the indigenous population would then not be rubber-stamped and funded by US taxpayers.

    Yes, it would be wonderful if more energy could be devoted to helping the Israelis learn to be more tolerant, for it is their imposition of an exclusive mono-religious state that has caused the displacement and destruction of Palestinian lives and homes (why not have a multi-ethnic state of Israstine as some have suggested, along US lines? why must it be exclusively Jewish?)

    An Israeli state was originally sanctioned because of European guilt over the Nazi Holocaust which the Palestinians had no part in. Why are Palestinians being punished and in fact scapegoated for European crimes?

    Rather than creating a safe haven for Jews, Israel is creating two open air concentration camps of its own for the beleaguered Palestinians, starving them, humiliating them at numerous checkpoints, freezing tax credits (money that properly belongs to them) and boycotting their democratically elected government (Hamas).

    While Hamas maintained a ceasefire for well over a year, it is Israel that invaded its neighbours (strikes on Gaza, invasion of Lebanon only last July and advocating a strike against Iran, as it did with Iraq.) So I ask you, who is the belligerent party? Who is the one with the nuclear weapons and not a signatory to the NPT (Iran is), who is the one excluding others? Who is the state practicing a form of apartheid much worse than that practiced in South Africa? Who is the intolerant party who denies the Palestinians their right to exist? Is Israel promoting peace?

    No, because by war, and under the cover of war, Israel maintains and expands its territories, at the expense of others. If Israel dispensed with the racist, supremacist character of its zionist state, we might then begin to have a genuine peace.

  3. Jack
    24 February, 2007

    Hi Ann,

    You have much more insight into this than I do. I try to look at if from many perspectives, and yours is definitely valuable. Thank you for taking the time to fill me in.

    Here is the U.S. we have a large faction of anti-Semites. They also tend to be conspiracy theorist kooks, so it is hard to determine fact from fiction. I have a very simplistic view of the whole matter, and really need to be more educated on this topic. The problem is that it is such a laborious task to sift through all of the nonsense and get to a reasonably unbiased picture. Of course that goes with just about anything nowadays!

    It sounds like what Israel is doing with the Palestinians is a lot like what the United States did with the American Indians.

    Thanks for the insight–I may pick your brain a bit more on this in the future!


  4. peoplesgeography
    26 February, 2007

    Hi Jack,

    Thanks for your response, I’d be happy to talk about this anytime and answer queries to the best of my ability. I agree that giving due consideration to the more than one perspective in this entrenched conflict is a good idea in order to see where different groups are coming from. There ain’t no such thing as mono-causality, to be sure, and various groups may have quite different narratives.

    I also am in agreement that with this topic in particular, the whole field is often filled with obfuscation, and it can at first be a real challenge to clear the fog! I of course am not pretending or pledging to able to single-handedly clear that fog, simply to present the under-told perspective as clearly and as fairly as possible.

    That’s a very good comparison you’ve drawn with the American Indians. I give an annual guest lecture to indigenous Australians on the Middle East (just a general overview) and what always impresses me is that they immediately understand this topic too, drawing parallels between the dispossession of Palestinians with the dispossession of ancestral Aboriginals. The difference is that we are not talking about colonialism decades or centuries ago, we’re still seeing it happen in this day and age, supposedly more enlightened and by people who should know better.

    I share your concern about anti-Semitism and I do not condone any sort of racism or intolerance towards any group. I am Semitic, though I am a Christian Semite rather than a Jewish one. I understand most Jews today are of European rather than of Semitic origin. Semitic Jews and Christians and Muslims have long co-existed in the Holy Land. At the same time, I champion diversity, peaceful coexistence and freedom of speech. I think there is Judeo-fascism just as there is Islamo- or Christian-fascism, and that we should speak up about tyranny no matter what its religious or political guise, particular when the actions of a few threaten to hijack a whole movement or group.

    Thinking about my Jewish friends, it has not escaped my notice that most describe themselves as secular Jews and most are not Zionists. I do feature and draw upon the work of “progressive” zionists such as Uri Avnery, though I am concerned that Zionism overall is a deformed project and don’t know that it can be rescued by the all too small number of well meaning reformers.

    One of my mentors is an energetic 88 y.o. secular Jewish elder who is the doyenne of the conflict resolution field. She is very dear to me and much loved. I know that it is not anti-Semitic to criticize Israel, just as it wasn’t racist to criticize South Africa’s apartheid policies. In fact I feel it is incumbent upon us to speak up and not remain silent about the injustices committed.

    Regarding conspiracy theories, I try to stick to established, provable fact. But I do acknowledge that conspiracies happen, and try to keep an open mind. Also, subjects previously taboo in the US are starting to open up, the role of the Israel Lobby being one. This is less a conspiracy than simply a powerful lobby group who have disproportionate influence on American foreign policy and are drawn from the Likudnik side of politics. This does not say much about the vast majority of American Jews, for whom groups like AIPAC claim to be representative.

    Jewish humanism is a wonderful tradition and the belligerent beating of the war drums against Iraq and Iran that emanate from AIPAC are decidedly not from or of this tradition.


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