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Settlements, first and always

Palestinian demonstrators hold Palestinian flags and placards during a protest against illegal settlements in the West Bank on 26 March 2017 [Wisam Hashlamoun/Apaimages]
Palestinian demonstrators hold Palestinian flags and placards during a protest against illegal settlements in the West Bank on 26 March 2017 [Wisam Hashlamoun/Apaimages]

Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s comments on the current government’s contribution to the settlement project in the territories occupied since 1967 are still echoing. Lieberman announced that the settlement construction figures during the first half of 2017 are the highest since 1992. He also added that during the past week alone, the green light was given for the construction of 3,651 new housing units in these settlements. Since the beginning of this year, the construction of 8,345 new housing units was approved, and he described this figure as “as high as it could possibly go.” (Israeli media outlets, 11/6/2017)

These statements may suggest that Benjamin Netanyahu’s successive governments since 2009 are the most keen to implement the settlement project in the territories occupied in 1967. However, reality also attributes this keenness to all the governments before 2009, even immediately after the occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

For example, on 3 February 2006, Yedioth Ahronoth’s weekly supplement Seven Days published a lengthy report in which it referred to new research data commissioned by acting Israeli Prime Minister at the time, Ehud Olmert. It had, for the first time, included a summary of the budgets spent on the settlements in the territories occupied in 1967 and the size of construction in the West Bank. The writer of the report believed that this research put an end to what he called the secrecy surrounding the Israeli construction work in the West Bank.

Read: Israel spent $20bn constructing illegal settlements

According to this data, the budgets spent on the settlements amounted to 15 per cent of the state’s GNP and half of amount came from the state’s general budget. The remaining amount came from personal initiatives. In addition to this, the budget provided by the government did not include the numerous facilitations and privileges afforded to those who moved into the occupied territories, such as tax reliefs, grants and other privileges. This means that the budget spent on the settlements and settlers is actually much bigger. With this money, 14 million square metres of housing was build, as well as public buildings, industrial and trade buildings, roads and infrastructure, not to mention military buildings.

There is no doubt that there is a clear goal behind this research, as well as behind Lieberman’s previous comments, i.e. to put the issue of settlement in the territories occupied in 1967 in their correct context. This context indicates that all the Israeli governments, and not some movements in the margins, are the only ones with the right to this ongoing project.


This right is not limited to right-wing governments, taking into account the typical reservations regarding the vertical division between the right and left wings in Israel. However, this does not prevent us from seeing that the left-wing governments were no less blunt in this matter. If we look at the Oslo path as a point in time to be studied, we must recall the fact that all of Israel’s violations of these agreements and commitments are almost dwarfed compared to its behaviour regarding the issue of settlements. Its main desire at the time was to create the conditions and realities on the ground that would prevent the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with regional contiguity within the 1967 borders. As a result of this, the settlers and their supporters have become, over the past years, a very influential element in the political arena in Israel. The fact that no Israeli government succeeded after Oslo in completing its legal term is a concrete expression of this influence. It is worth noting in this regard that all of the successive Israeli governments since the agreement have supported and given the green light to settlement expansion, land confiscation, and occasionally causing friction with the Palestinians.

In the first eight years after the Oslo Accords, the number of settlers in the territories occupied in 1967 increased by nearly 80 per cent, although natural reproduction constituted only a small percentage of this increase!

Translated from Arab48, 14 June 2017.

ArticleIsraelMiddle EastOpinionPalestine
  • John Lanckmans

    What a biased news site this is. Everything in the world is the fault of the Jewish nation, we know that nobody is blameless. But of course the Palestinians are whiter than white. No wonder the war continues, but there will be peace when the Messiah Jesus Christ returns.

    God bless Israel.

    • Helen4Yemen

      Neil Gaiman:

      “According to 23andme, genetically I am
      99.6% Ashkenazi,
      0.3% unspecified European,
      0.1% East Asian. ”
      Total European = 99.9%
      Total Middle East = 0.0%

      replace * with .

      • peepsqueek

        When any of the Prophets return to Earth, I am sure they will think just like you and give everyone entitlements to all land on this planet based solely on genetics. — Sarcasm intended

        • John Lanckmans

          Hi there,
          I think the issue is this, there is always the truth and it is not just the case of who is right, is it? Surely if someone believes that we humans were created by a superior being (God) rather than through some happy accident, then He would want us to know that. So, there are not ‘many Gods’ or faiths only one, and by that token only one truth, one true faith. So, yes other faiths therefore will be false!!

          Christ’s words in themselves confirm this, He is ‘The way, the TRUTH and the life’ . There is no other name under the sun by which we (mankind) can be saved (from eternal death). So all those who believe that He is God are awaiting His return as He promised. The total confusion and mayhem that exists on the earth at the moment are a sign of His imminent return, I am not trying to convince you or sway you or trying to get you to believe in who He is, just that as a fellow human being tell you that He will soon step through the door (portal, dimensional gate, etc etc, whatever is the truth) and stand upon the Mount of Olives and declare to the nations His presence!

          You, just like me are human, and have been given the gift of life, you never earned it, and definitely never made it! You have no God given rights, only human ones. He owns the earth and all that is in it including the very stuff we are made of and owns the spirit (power) that keeps us alive and the Universe in motion.

          So be thankful, whether Christian, Jew, Muslim, Bhuddist, Atheists or Agnostics, All will have to bow before Him. And by His grace so will I!!!

          • peepsqueek

            It is hard for me to believed that you really believe all that stuff in the 21st century. The story of Jesus is a fabrication, not written in Jesus time, not in his town, nor in his language. The Gospels were written in Greek and Jesus was given all the attribute of former Greek Gods. It is hardly a new story.

            It is also hard for be to understand how you could chose the biblical story of creation over evolution. I hope you are not teaching that to children as facts instead of fiction, because that is a form of child abuse by stifling their critical thinking. I loved the biblical stories growing-up, but we understood that they were collective fairy tales.

    • peepsqueek

      If the biblical concept of Jesus could return, he would probably not have identification papers and would be considered settler in the West Bank, place of his birth. However, Jesus could speak Hebrew to his people, and not Arabic, so he could talk to the rabbis. On the other hand, if Jesus were the Son of God, he would be able to speak all the 20,000 languages on the planet, and not be so very limited to a very specific geographical area, and give him some modern mass communication, with his own website and twitter account.