Israeli Watchdog: Israel’s Annexation, Dispossession of Palestinians Increasing

Israeli Watchdog: Israel’s Annexation, Dispossession of Palestinians Increasing

30 March 2021: Palestinian families from Sheikh Jarrah during a demonstration to mark the 45th anniversary of Land Day. (Photograph by Mostafa Alkharouf/ Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

A year after the Israeli coalition government is founded, its policy not only continues the policies set by the previous Benjamin Netanyahu governments but deepens the settlement project, the dispossession and the oppression of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, said the Israeli human rights group Peace Now in a new report.

Peace Now said the Israeli government furthers a policy of expansion and further building in the settlements and their infrastructure for Israeli settlers on the one hand, and a policy of preventing planning and building permits, house demolitions and restrictions infringing upon freedoms of Palestinians on the other hand. This process leads to annexation de facto and creating a binational apartheid state.

According to the report, there was a 26% increase in planning settlement expansion with the promotion of plans for 7,292 housing units in the settlements, compared to an annual average of 5,784 housing units in the Netanyahu governments, said Peace Now. The average includes the years 2012 to 2020 in which information is available, it said.

The Bennett-Lapid coalition government has issued tenders for the construction of 1,550 housing units in the settlements, compared to an annual average of 1,343 housing units per year in the Netanyahu governments (an increase of 15%).

The Bennett-Lapid government furthered a number of strategically lethal plans that especially harm the chance for Palestinian development and continuity, the two-state solution and reaching a political agreement.

Under the Bennett-Lapid government there were six new illegal outposts founded: Givat Hadegel in the South Hebron Hills, Karnei Re’em in the Salfit area, Mevo’ot Jericho Farm north of Jericho, Julius Farm in the North of the Jordan Valley and the Ohavey-Ya outpost West of Bethlehem.

The Bennett-Lapid government has been called upon several times for the burning issue of displacing Palestinian families in East Jerusalem. The Supreme Court sought the Attorney General’s position on the issue, and in fact gave the government a convenient opportunity to assist in preventing the massive expropriation. However, the government preferred not to intervene and even to support the evictions.

The Bennett-Lapid government deepened the policy of expulsion of Palestinians and their restriction to the constrained enclaves in Areas A and B. This is the mirror image of deepening the settlement project. Besides taking hold of thousands of dunams by building settlements and agricultural outposts in area C, the government is working to displace Palestinians in practice by prevention of granting building permits and planning on the one hand, and demolitions of structures, infrastructures and preventing the connection to water on the other hand.

As of June 6, the Civil Administration, an arm of the Israeli military government that administers the occupied West Bank, had demolished 639 Palestinian-owned structures in Area C (Israeli control), causing 604 people to lose their home. This is a 35% increase compared to the average of demolitions in the Netanyahu years (474 structures per annum).

In East Jerusalem there were 189 structures demolished and 450 Palestinians had consequently become homeless. This is a 59% increase compared to the Netanyahu years. In addition, there had been attempts to displace entire communities in Humsa and in Ras a-Tin in the Jordan Valley, and in Masafer Yatta in south Hebron Hills.

Peace now that said in the entirety of 2021 there were only 10 building permits granted for Palestinians, compared to 1,448 housing units that started to be built in the settlements in the second half of 2021 only (and 2,526 in the entirety of the year). This shows the discrepancy between the two different policies aimed at the two populations in the Occupied Territories, Palestinians and Israelis, that is, the apartheid tendencies continued by the current government.

It said that whereas in the settlements 55 plans were approved for 7,292 housing units, the government approved only six plans for Palestinians with 1,303 housing units in the entire Area C.

In an unusual step, the Bennett-Lapid government declared 22,000 dunums of land as a ‘nature reserve’ in the Nachal Og area south of Jericho.

The Bennett Lapid government continued the trend of the Netanyahu government in changing the reality in the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the erosion of the status quo.

Bennett-Lapid’s coalition also legislated the ‘citizenship and entering Israel law’ which prevents giving legal status in Israel for Palestinian partners of Israeli citizens and residents. This is a blatant discriminatory act that disallows a couple in which one partner is under occupation to live as a family in Israel (thus infringing upon their human rights openly).

The Bennett-Lapid government is playing a double game and in fact tries to mislead the world. On the one hand, it promises not to harm the chances for peace and to comply by the rule of law, but on the other hand– it continues the lethal settlement policy and allows lawlessness to continue freely under occupation.

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