Author: Institute for Middle East Understanding | Date: 01 February 2017
Yesterday’s announcement of new settlement construction comes after Israel approved a further 3,000 settlement units last week, and as senior Israeli officials like Naftali Bennett, leader of the Jewish Home party and Minister of Education, threaten to annex the entire occupied West Bank in response to the evacuation of Amona.
Various views presented below:
Yousef Munayyer, Political analyst at the Arab Center of Washington, DC, executive director of the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, and former executive director of the Jerusalem Fund and Palestine Center:
“Today the state of Israel is removing a small number of settlers from the settlement outpost of Amona, which is illegal even under Israeli law. Like all Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, from the smallest outpost to the largest cities like Maale Adumim, Amona is illegal under international law. It is worth noting that this comes along with announcements made yesterday and last week that Israel has approved thousands more settlement units in the West Bank, and that the settlers removed from Amona will likely be resettled in another illegal settlement. It is akin to moving stolen money from your left pocket to your right, then robbing someone again to compensate your left pocket.
“At the same time, members of Netanyahu’s government are threatening to annex the entire West Bank in response to the evacuation of Amona, and on Monday Israeli lawmakers are scheduled to vote on a bill that would legalize all outposts under Israeli law, effectively creating more than 100 new official settlements.
“It is also important note that Israeli state actions like this have often been followed by Israeli settler attacks against Palestinian civilians. Notably, in 2015 a settler terror attack on a Palestinian home incinerated three members of a Palestinian family in their sleep, including a baby, and left a toddler badly injured. Despite being well aware that the likelihood of such events increases after evacuations, the Israeli state prioritizes the safety of the settlers in illegal settlements instead of the targets of their terror, Palestinian civilians, whom Israel as the occupying power has an obligation to protect under international law.”
Zaha Hassan, Human rights attorney and Middle East Fellow at New America. During Palestine’s bid for UN membership and Quartet-sponsored talks between 2010 and 2012, Ms. Hassan was the coordinator and legal advisor to the Palestinian negotiating team:
"The Trump inauguration seems to have emboldened the Israeli prime minister to step up the illegal colonization of occupied Palestinian land. There have been 6,000 new units announced in just the past week, but what the sound bite of these announcements doesn't say is what this will mean to Palestinian lives.
"The settlement enterprise is part of a package of inhumanity that includes the destruction of family homes, the uprooting of fruit-producing trees and other crops, meaning there will be no way for those families to sustain themselves on the land. Worst of all, it will mean the loss of all hope for freedom and self-determination for Palestinians.
"The Trump administration and US policymakers should be true to longstanding US policy and reassert the illegality of these Israeli actions, and also back that up with meaningful steps to prevent the construction of more illegal settlement units in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem."
Rebecca Vilkomerson, Executive Director of Jewish Voice for Peace, a national membership organization inspired by Jewish tradition to work for the freedom, equality, and dignity of all the people of Israel and Palestine. JVP is one of the fastest growing Jewish organizations in the United States, with more than 60 chapters and 200,000 members and supporters:
“With the green light of the Trump administration, the Israeli government is continuing to expand construction of illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian land. Following the evacuation of the illegal settlement outpost Amona today, Education Minister Naftali Bennett pledged that this was a small setback that will lead to the full annexation of the West Bank, and on Monday the Knesset is supposed to vote on a bill that would make more than 100 outposts legal under Israeli law. We should take Bennett at his word, and understand continued settlement expansion as a step towards that goal. Israel is facing two futures: either permanent apartheid or freedom and equality for all.”