EU, Watch report by the European Union Consul General in Jerusalem: Settlements Watch

Settlements Watch: 1 September to 12 December 1997

The Watch is produced by the European Union Consuls General in Jerusalem, and agreed with the European Union Heads of Mission in Tel Aviv. It draws on statements by the Israeli Government where available, but also on press reports and reports of non-governmental organisations. The following summarises the Watch.

During the period covered by this report, there has been further settlement activity in the Occupied Territories and Jerusalem.

Jerusalem

Work on the infrastructure at Har Homa (Jabal Abu Ghneim) has been completed. The Israeli Housing Ministry says that it will issue tenders for the construction of the first 1,000 housing units in the first quarter of 1998.

A number of Jewish families moved into the Palestinian neighbourhood of Ras-al-Amoud. The Israeli Government agreed to a « compromise » which allowed ten yeshiva students to remain in the Ras-al-Amoud.

An appeals committee of the Interior Ministry rejected an appeal against a plan to build 70 housing units for Israelis in Ras-al-Amoud. The Israeli Government said construction now was out of the question, but did not rule this out at a later stage.

According to the Palestinian press, and Palestinian NGOs monitoring settlement activity, the organisation, Elad, continues to buy properties in Silwan. Another organisation, Aterot Cohenim, announced that it would seek to occupy further houses in the Old City, following the fatal shooting of a Yeshiva student. But no action has been taken so far.

West Bank

The Israeli Housing Ministry announced that it would market the land for 4,420 housing units in the West Bank during 1998. The Israeli Government has not commented on whether they have, or will, grant the necessary approval.

Prime Minister Netanyahu announced that a further 300 housing units would be built in Efrat.

The press reported plans by the Gush Etzion Regional Council to expand the Gush Etzion block into a new city – Ir Ganim – including an additional 10,000 housing units located beyond the existing municipal boundary. The press reported that Israeli bulldozers were clearing land for housing in the area of Beit Sakariyah in the Gush Etzion block.

According to Peace Now, the Government has approved the construction of an additional thirty houses in Otniel.

The Israeli Housing Ministry has issued a tender for the construction of 72 housing units in Alfe Menashe. The settlers say they have received approval to build 900 units, and that 250 are already under construction.

According to the press, the Government has approved the construction of 1000 housing units in Ariel, and has issued a tender for 200 units. The construction of 120 units has already begun.

The Palestinian press, and NGOs monitoring settlement activity, have reported that:

– Israeli bulldozers cleared land in Shufah, planned for the expansion of Avne Hafez;

– clearing land continues between the four hilltop neighbourhoods of Eli;

– settlers from Homesh are clearing land for construction between Al-Fandaqumiyah and Burga;

– mobile homes have been erected near Awartah, planned for the expansion of Itmar;

– settlers from Netafim B continue to build on land belonging to Qarawat Beni Hassan;

– mobile homes have been moved on to land from Jabal Mohammed, adjoining Qedumim (despite a court ruling that the settlers should leave);

– settlers from Shilo moved 3 mobile homes onto land belonging to Qaryut and Jalud villages;

– and settlers from Susaya continue to prevent residents from Yattah from working their land.

Gaza

According to Peace Now, Israel Lands Authority have issued a tender for the construction of 26 housing units in Nisanit, in Gaza.