CMEP Bulletin: Unprecedented Settlement Growth Causes Unprecedented ProtestWritten by Churches for Middle East Peace
January 21, 2013
As election forecasts show Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cruising to a new term, Peace Now has released a review of his government’s settlement policies since 2009. The anti-settlement watchdog group says facts point to a leader whose has “used settlements as a tool to systematically undermine the chances of achieving a viable, realistic two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict…” With Netanyahu encountering little meaningful opposition to his plans from leaders at home and abroad, Palestinian nonviolent protestors took dramatic action last Friday, January 11 that some say could be a “turning point.”
According to Peace Now’s figures, in 2012 the Netanyahu government approved 3,148 bids on new settlement construction, the highest in a decade. Since 2009 almost 40 percent of the new building sites were in what the organization calls "isolated settlements,” and not the existing built-up blocs that the Israeli government says will be a part of Israel in any deal to create a Palestinian state. In “past years,” the number was closer to 20 percent.
Last year, the Netanyahu government also became the first since the Yitzhak Shamir government in 1988-1990 to establish new settlements in the West Bank when it declared four previously illegal outposts to be official settlements. Six other illegal outposts were incorporated into “neighborhoods” of existing settlements. In East Jerusalem, the Netanyahu government approved the establishment of Givat Hamatos, the first new settlement in the aspirational Palestinian capital since Netanyahu’s first term as prime minister in 1997.
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