In Consolidation of the Israeli Annexation Policy and Settlement Expansion Israel Calls for Tenders for 1365 New Settlement Units on Occupied East Jerusalem Lands
Date: 16 November 2020
Time: 12:30 GMT
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns the escalated pace of Israeli settlement activities in the West Bank, as large-scale demolitions are conducted against Palestinian houses and properties, in actualization of the Israeli annexation plan and consolidation of Israeli sovereignty on the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt).
On Sunday, 15 November 2020, the Israeli Ministry of Construction and Housing and the Israel Lands Authority issued a call for tenders for construction of 1,257 settlement units in “Givat Hamatos” settlement, which was established on the lands of Beit Safafa village, southern occupied East Jerusalem. These units would connect “Gilo” and “Har Homa” settlements with “Talpiot” settlement.
The construction of these settlement units would seal off Bethlehem from Beit Safafa village and southern occupied East Jerusalem and will entail further restrictions and obstacles on Palestinians’ freedom of movement and access to their lands.
It should be noted that “Givat Hamatos” settlement is a neighborhood of temporary housing projects, built on an area of 170 dunums and bordered by “Talpiot” settlement from the north and “Gilo” settlement from the south, and Beit Safafa village from the west. “Givat Hamatos” is considered among the last areas of open lands in Jerusalem that fall adjacent to the 1967 border line; it is a rocky land with few demolished buildings and mostly abandoned trailers. Consequently, the Israeli announcement carries greater significance than it shows, it is not merely the creation of new residential units in a settlement as it appears; in fact, it would be the first new Israeli neighborhood to be established on the 1967 border-line in East Jerusalem in the last 20 years.
The Israeli government had previously conducted such a construction in 1997, when “Har Homa” settlement was first established only two days after signing the first Hebron Protocol with Palestinians. Nowadays, “Har Homa” settlement houses more than 50,000 settlers.
This Israeli bidding was released 4 days after Israel’s approval to construct 108 settlement units in “Ramat Shlomo” settlement, northern occupied East Jerusalem. With these two bids, Israel is resuming construction in two settlements, where expansion efforts were frozen in 2014 due to international pressures.
These tenders coincide with escalated IOF demolition and confiscation of Palestinian properties and lands, particularly in Area “C” in the West Bank.
PCHR fears that Israeli intends to accelerate settlement expansion before President-elect Joe Biden assumes US presidency on 20 January 2021, as it is reported that Israel plans to approve the construction of at least 13,000 settlement units in occupied East Jerusalem.
PCHR reiterates that the Israeli settlement construction and expansion schemes are illegal and constitute a war crime under the international humanitarian law , particularly Article (49) of the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention which stipulates that “Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive.”
PCHR asserts that settlements are a war crime, according to Article 8 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC). For years now, Palestinians have been waiting for the ICC’s decision to open an investigation into Israeli crimes, as crimes committed in the occupied Palestinian territory fall within the Court’s jurisdiction since Palestine acceded to the Rome Statute in 2015.
PCHR is concerned over the suspicious silence of the international community vis a vis the Israeli decisions; and calls for concrete measures towards the application of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution No. 2334 which condemns Israeli settlements.
PCHR also calls upon the international community to move promptly and effectively in order to enforce and promote the rule of law and to end Israel’s insolent defiance and disregard for the principles of international law as well as Israel’s decades-old impunity.