First 'Settler Award', Relaxed Laws on Palestinian Land Seizure - Israel's Illegal Expansion Gets Bolder

Published November 16th, 2017 - 02:40 GMT
Plans to build 6,500 settlement units in the West Bank have been approved since the beginning of 2017 (AFP)
Plans to build 6,500 settlement units in the West Bank have been approved since the beginning of 2017 (AFP)
  • Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit has said that Palestinian land in the West Bank can be seized for use by Israeli settlers
  • His opinion comes following an earlier ruling which said that land could be seized on the grounds that settlers also form part of the local West Bank population
  • Mendelbit’s legal opinion comes following a request to legalize a road to the illegal Jewish outpost of Harsha, near Ramallah
  • Plans to build 6,500 settlement units in the West Bank have been approved since the beginning of 2017

 

The Israeli government and pro-settler movement has become stronger and bolder than ever before during the presidency of Donald Trump.


Global observers were shocked at the inclusion of a "settlement prize" during this year's annual Israeli independence day celebrations.


The award is the first of its kind and highlights increased commitment to the West Bank settlements, which are considered illegal under international law and seen as a key obstacle to the two-state solution.

However, this is not the only example of increased pro-settlement activity by Israel since Donald Trump took office this year.

Earlier this month, Israel’s Attorney General said that privately-owned Palestinian land could be seized for settler’s use.

The move is the latest in an ongoing trend of settlement expansion which has peaked since U.S. President Donald Trump took office.

Earlier this year Supreme Court Justice Salim Joubran ruled that land could be seized by Israeli settlers as they formed part of the local population of the West Bank.

Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit now says that Palestinian land can be expropriated for public purposes in settlements.

Mendelbit’s legal opinion comes following a request to legalize a road to the illegal Jewish outpost of Harsha, near Ramallah.

At present, part of the path sits on privately-owned Palestinian land, blocking legal access to the settlement and acting as an obstacle to the recognition of the outpost by the Zionist state.

Mendelblit previously opposed the expropriation of private Palestinian land at Harsha.

Earlier this year, the attorney general said that giving the go-ahead for the controversial road would present legal issues because it would only in use by the Jewish population.

However, in this week’s legal opinion, Mendelblit said that he could see no reason why the move could not go ahead.

Speaking earlier this year Supreme Court Justice Joubran said: “Israelis are included among the civilian population of the area and therefore the military commander’s duty also extends to them.”

Last month a group of Israeli settlers were filmed stealing from an olive harvest in the West Bank.

Despite video footage, the four were released without charge after being detained by Israeli police.

The news comes after Israel's Jerusalem affairs minister told a conference that is necessary to plan for up to one million settlers in the occupied West Bank.

Speaking at the “On the Way to a Million” conference in Jerusalem Ze'ev Elkin said: “Advance plans with all your might, as if it is possible today as if you could create a zoning plan for 1,000 homes and execute it. If everyone does this, I believe that the numbers will become the reality of our lives,”

According to the minister, an increased number of Israelis in the West Bank “will change the entire outlook with regard to diplomacy security and settlements and will show everyone that there is no turning back here.”

Secretary-General of the Palestinian National Initiative and Palestinian MP Mustafa Barghouti has said that “settlement expansion” has increased by an unprecedented amount under the presidency of Donald Trump.

Barghouti believes that the current Israeli government has no ambition to “allow the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.”

“We are facing a dangerous Israeli project, we must confront this with a strong and effective Palestinian unity,” he told Anadolu Agency.

“There are no areas under the control of the Palestinian security authority. Israel has divided the West Bank into 225 small cut-off islands, through checkpoints, the separation wall, and colonial settlements” he added.

The latest data from the Israeli Peace Now movement shows that plans to build 6,500 settlement units in the West Bank have been approved since the beginning of 2017, compared to 2,629 settlement units in 2016 and 1982 settlement units in 2015.


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