2012 Witnessed High Increase In illegal Settlement Activities
IMEMC – The Israeli government approved in 2012 tenders for the construction of 2386 settlements in occupied Jerusalem, compared to 772 units approved in 2011 and 256 in 2010, Israeli human rights group Ir Amim reported. Israeli daily, Haaretz, reported that there are clear indications that the government of Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, intends to construct the new homes for Jewish settlers, especially since the Israel’s Regional Construction and Planning Committee approved all new decisions to construct these units.
Ir Amin said that the Israeli government approved in 2012 the future construction of 6932 units for settlers, while 1772 units were approved in 2011 and 569 in 2010.
Most of the approved constructions are for the expansion of the illegal settlements of Gilo, Har Homa (Jabal Abu Ghneim), and Givat Hamatos, south of occupied Jerusalem, in addition to Ramat Shlomo and Pisgat Ze’ev, north of the occupied city.
The statistics excluded construction plans for thousands of units in the so-called E1 area, between Maale Adumim settlement block and occupied East Jerusalem.
The report also stated that in 2008, the Israeli government that was headed by Ehud Olmert, and following the failure of the Annapolis peace summit, issued tenders for the construction of 1931 units, while 1021 units were approved in 2009.
Haaretz said that the American “pressure on Israel” regarding its settlement activities increased after Israel announced the construction of 1600 units in Ramat Shlomo illegal settlement while U.S. Vice President, Joe Biden, was visiting the area holding talks with Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, trying to convince them to resume direct peace talks.
Israel then made use of the fact that the United States was engaged in election campaigns last year, and stepped-up its illegal settlement activities.
Haaretz said that despite the fact that Israel claims that most of its settlement tenders and approvals made in 2012 came to punish the Abbas for heading to the UN, the simple fact is that such activities require time and lengthy legal measures.
It is worth mentioning that the Jerusalem City Council approved, Wednesday, the construction of six hotels (1000 rooms) in Givat Hamatos, south of occupied Jerusalem.
Yehudit Oppenheimer, Executive Director of Ir Amim, told Haaretz that what is happening is an attempt to change the structure and geography of Jerusalem without even presenting the issue to the Israeli public.
Oppenheimer added that what Israel is trying to achieve a “greater Jerusalem” that includes the settlement blocs of Maale Adumim, Gush Ezion, while imprisoning large Palestinian communities, suffocated by settlements.