CMEP Bulletin: More Settlement Drama, Final Preparations Underway for Conference
This week’s Churches for Middle East Peace news round-up
More Settlement Drama
The drama never ends when it comes to the Israeli settlements in the West Bank. This week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to evict the settlers of the Ulpana neighborhood in the Beit El settlement in accordance with a Supreme Court ruling last month. The New York Times saw this as a possible “glimmer of hope” for advancing peace talks with the Palestinians, but it quickly became clear that Netanyahu decision was not a diplomatic gesture at all. After legislation to legalize the outpost introduced by right-wing Knesset members failed, he mollified them by promising to continue building. On Wednesday he announced the government would build 850 new apartments in the West Bank, including 300 in Beit El. The international community denounced the decision.
Undeterred, the government went a step further on Thursday when it announced that 13 of the 18 outposts that current Israeli law deems illegal will be legalized. Settlers built the other five on private Palestinian property and the government will eventually evacuate them.
Settlers continue to stir up trouble by clashing with nearby Palestinians outside Yitzhar, a settlement close to Nablus that has many extremist residents. In the previous two weeks, Yitzhar residents shot two Palestinians while the IDF watched nearby. This week, the IDF stepped in to save a Palestinian man after settler youth shot him, tied him up and beat him.