Israel’s Massive Colony Expansion

Consortium News, June 28, 2023 —

The approval by Netanyahu’s coalition government of thousands of new colonial settlement units in the Occupied West Bank comes in the midst of a nearly week-long wave of  violence that has drawn international condemnation.

The Israeli occupation authorities on Monday approved the construction of 5,623 new colonial settlement units in the occupied West Bank.

This move comes in the midst of a nearly week-long wave of Israeli colonial settler violence against Palestinians that has included burning Palestinian villages, beating children, burning Muslim holy books, invading mosques and uprooting Palestinian olive trees.

The wave of West Bank violence [including killings associated with Israeli military’s operation involving advanced military weaponry in the Jenin Refugee Camp] has been condemned by the international community, including representatives of the French and U.S. governments, who called on Israel to halt its settlement expansion — which is illegal under international law. [A U.N. call to end West Bank violence was backed by the U.S. and Russia, AP reports.]

Israel instead ignored the worldwide condemnation and moved to expand colonial settlements in different parts of the West Bank.

The Israeli town of Eli in the Shomron, West Bank, Israel. (Akivapath, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 3.0)

The West Bank and Gaza Strip are the small portions of historic Palestine that remain belonging to the indigenous Palestinian population. They have been under Israeli military occupation since 1967, which has meant Israeli control of all land, sea and sky, all marriages and divorces, all births, deaths and other records. Palestinians must go to Israeli military bases to seek permits for hospitalization, travel, work and school.

[Related: THE ANGRY ARAB: ‘The 1967 Defeat’ Industry]

Since 1967, and particularly since the Oslo Accords in 1994, Israel has blatantly expanded its territory by forcibly expelling Palestinians from their land, and then building Jewish-only colonial settlements, moving Jewish Israelis onto the newly-seized lands and building electrified fences and walls to secure the newly-declared colonial settlement.

Monday’s approval covers 4,291 new settlement units which are already in an advanced stage of planning or construction. It also includes submitting 1,332 new building plans for approval.

According to the Israeli media, 1,000 new settlement units, beyond what the occupation government had approved last week, have also been approved. They will be built in the “Eli” settlement built on citizens’ lands south of Nablus.

These will be added to the plans, according to an agreement among the prime minister of the occupation, Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich.

The plan to expand the “Eli” settlement has been hotly contested by Palestinians, who held a non-violent protest on the hillside where the expansion is being planned for over a year, with many of the protesters brutalized, shot and teargassed by Israeli forces on a nearly daily basis.

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