Israeli rights group Peace Now has issued a new report condemning the Netanyahu government for a record of dramatic settlement expansions and retroactive legalization of outposts built illegally, part of an overall policy they warn is undermining Palestinian statehood and the prospect of a Mideast peace deal.
Since abandoning the partial “freeze” on settlement construction in September 2010, the Netanyahu government has issued tenders for a record 4,469 new homes to be constructed in the West Bank, according to reports, and much of that expansions has come in isolated camps deep within the West Bank, undermining the goal of a contiguous Palestinian state.
The Land Authority has announced yet more tenders for settlement construction today as well, with 114 new apartments in Efrat and another 84 in Kiryat Arba. The announcement prompted more criticism from Netanyahu’s political opponents that he is doing severe damage to Israel’s international standing with the expansions.
The biggest settlement issue though, particularly for the international community, is the one in E-1, which would effectively bisect the West Bank and leave a contiguous Palestine permanently out of reach. The Israeli Supreme Court today gave the go-ahead for the military to forcibly evict protesters from E-1, even though the protesters are on private land and have permission to be there, insisting that the security interest of ousting the protesters trumps the property rights of the owners of the land.