Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu listens to Avichai Mandelblit (R) during the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem November 16, 2014. REUTERS/Gali Tibbon/Pool/File Photo

In its weekly report about Israeli settlement activities in the occupied West Bank, including Jerusalem, the National Bureau for the Defense of Land stated that, following the Israeli resolution to end the Knesset term, and move to early elections on April 9th, PM Netanyahu began his campaign meeting with the heads of the settler councils after he approved the construction of thousands of new settlement units, promising them more, should they vote for him.

Thus, the budget committee at the Knesset recently approved the transfer of NIS 80 million to support the settlements, whereas 50 NIS million was allocated to the so-called “settlement councils” in order to implement the provisions of the “settlement law” that was approved by Netanyahu’s settlement committee. Another NIS 26 million was allocated as compensation for evacuees from the settlement outpost of Netivot Habut, and to promote settlements in Gush Etzion and Kiryat Arba. The rest was allocated for settlement purposes in the occupied West Bank.

Within the same context, the so-called “Supreme Planning Council” in the Civil Administration, the executive arm of the occupation and settlement in the West Bank, approved plans to build 2,191 new housing units in settlements of the West Bank. 87% of these will be built in scattered outposts, 1,908 housing units will be built in settlements east of the apartheid wall, in the West Bank. 283 housing units are to be built in settlements west of the wall. The Supreme Planning Committee approved plans for the construction of 1,100 housing units in the West Bank, of which 150 housing units will be located in the Mount Hebron area, 300 in the Giv’at Ze’ev settlement, to the north of occupied Jerusalem, and 300 in the Neveh Daniel and Karmei Tsur settlements, to the south of Bethlehem.

The committee also approved plans for the construction of another 450 housing units in the following settlements: 129 housing units in the settlement of Avnei Hefetz, 121 housing units in the Yitzhar settlement, to the south of Nablus — which is considered a stronghold of ultra-Orthodox settlers and Jewish terrorist organizations — 42 in the Tsufim settlement, 42 in the Alfei Menasheh settlement, 62 in Maale Mikhmash, 55 in Tomer, 18 in Adora and 16 in Metasad, only one in the Shilo settlements, but 135 in the “Tina Omarim” neighborhood. In addition, 13 other building plans wait for approval, of which include 152 units in “Shavei Shamron”, 94 units in “Hagai” and 100 units in “Helmish – Neve Tzuf”,75 units in “Shvut Rachel-Shilo”, 98 units near ” Amos “, 82 units in” Ofra“ and two units in ”Tsufim”.

PNN further reports that, in a dangerous development, a new Israeli law allows, if approved, the control of Palestinian villages in the occupied West Bank located in area “C”, under the so-called “absentee properties” in the West Bank, as it allocates rural areas in favor of the Settlement Brigade and authorizes it to manage the lands and register them, knowing that “the brigade or the Settlement Department” has been considered to be the executive arm of the occupation government, in the West Bank, for decades.

On the other hand, Israeli Knesset Speaker, Paul Edelstein decided to participate in a tour organized by the so-called “extreme right-wing Um-Trasto Movement”, in Hebron, as they have called for the application of Israeli sovereignty over Hebron. Edelstein also participated in the Land of Israel Conference, which was held at the Knesset under the title, “Support, Solidarity and Commitment to Jewish settlement in Hebron”, as Israel is working to develop and invest in Hebron for generations to come. In addition, Israeli Minister of Culture and Sport, Miri Regev, also participated in the inauguration of the “Amona” outpost, after settlers recently re-established it.

For his part, and in the context of continuing with his activity and support for policies of settlement and annexation, Nir Barkat, the former mayor of occupied Jerusalem, recently concluded an extensive visit to the US, in which he presented the political formula adopted by the Israeli right, which is the imposition of Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank, granting Palestinian self-rule, whereas his meetings focused on presenting the political plan agreed on by the Israeli right as an alternative to the failed plan that is called the two-state solution.

A report issued by Peace Now, regarding the ongoing Israeli operations to launder settlement outposts and legitimize them, under the title “From the Occupation to the Apartheid”, shows the most significant changes in the legal status of the Palestinian territories in the West Bank and the settlements over the last decade, of which Netanyahu has been in office, confirmed that the starting point was the change in the Israeli government’s attitude towards illegal settlement outposts, by announcing its intention to legitimize them. This was translated on the ground by legitimizing more than 35 outposts, to this day.

In light of this policy practiced by the Israeli Government, neglecting the international community, international law and the resolutions of international legitimacy, including resolution 2334 of the UN Security Council, at the end of 2016, the European Union, France, Britain and Turkey condemned the Israeli government’s agreement to build more than 2,000 housing units settlements in the occupied West Bank. “The European Union’s position on Israeli settlement construction and other related activities is clear and unchanged,” said Maya Kosianicic, spokeswoman for European Head of Diplomacy, Federica Mugirini.

All settlement activities are illegal under international law.

For its part, the French Foreign Ministry issued a statement on the Israeli authorities’ resolution, in which it confirmed that such a resolution will lead to the expansion of settlements in the West Bank, contrary to international law, as confirmed by resolution 2334 of the UNSC.

The National Bureau for Defending the Land and Resisting Settlement welcomed these positions and the decision of the Danish parliament, last week, which adopted, by a large majority, 81 votes in return for 22 votes on the resolution to exclude Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine from any agreements with Israel. It also decided to strengthen government lines directed against the investment of official and personal bodies in the settlements.

The resolution also supports the work of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in drafting a “black list” of Israeli companies operating in the territories. He called on all world governments to stop all forms of cooperation with Israeli settlements and stop the entry of goods produced in the Israeli settlements.

(edited for the IMEMC by c h r i s @ i m e m c . o r g)