by Stephen Lendman
On November 13, the Jerusalem Post headlined "Netanyahu instructs housing minister to 'reconsider' plans for 24,000 units beyond Green Line."
Tenders were issued to begin preliminary work. According to an unnamed Israeli official, Netanyahu expressed concern over timing.
He referred to ongoing (sham) peace talks and international focus on Iran.
Construction plans aren't shelved. They're not delayed. Netanyahu committed long ago to unlimited settlement expansions.
He's defiant. He dismisses world condemnation. He claims the right to keep "building in Jerusalem, (throughout the West Bank, as well as all other places) on the map of Israel's strategic interests."
He wants all valued parts of Palestine Judaized. He envisions a greater Israel. He encourages new settlement construction.
His alleged concern masks his real intentions. He says one thing. He does another. Unlimited settlement construction reflects longstanding Israeli policy. Current plans remain unchanged.
Netanyahu wasn't quoted directly. Whatever he allegedly said changes nothing. Throughout his political career, his settlement policy was hardline. It remains so.
In November 2009, he announced a 10 month construction freeze, saying:
"I hope that this decision will help launch meaningful negotiations to reach a historic peace agreement that would finally end the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians."
"Now is the time to begin negotiations. Now is the time to move forward towards peace."
"Israel today has taken a far-reaching step toward peace. It is time for the Palestinians to do the same."
"Israel's government has made an important step toward peace today. Let us make peace together."
He called his intentions "genuine." He lied. His so-called freeze was practically none at all. It was more head fake than real. It was too little to matter.
Construction never stopped. It continued unabated. At most, it temporarily slowed.
Eight months after his announcement, Peace Now said construction began on 600 or more new units in 60 separate settlements.
Work continued on 2,000 others. Most began before Netanyahu's announcement. Peace Now said at the time:
"This means that on the ground, there is almost no freeze or even a visible slowdown, despite the fact that legal construction starts have been prohibited for eight months. It also means that...Israel is not enforcing the moratorium."
It bears repeating. Netanyahu says one thing. He does another. He's duplicitous. He's a notorious serial liar. He can't be trusted.
His so-called current "reconsideration" is none at all. Reports suggesting otherwise ring hollow. Expect no policy change going forward.
On November 11, Peace Now headlined "The Settlements Boom of the First 8 Months of Netanyahu's Government."
From March 18 through early November 2013, "there has been a non-stop settlements construction and approval boom."
The latest round of Palestinian prisoner releases was accompanied by 2,258 tenders for new settlement units. Plans for another 2,487 were promoted.
Throughout the eight months period, tenders for 3,472 new units were issued. "Plans have been promoted for no fewer than 8,943 new settlement units."
"These facts once again raise the very serious question about the motivations and intentions of Prime Minister Netanyahu with respect to peace, negotiations, and the two-state solution."
According to Peace Now director Yair Oppenheimer:
Peace "talks are only for show. Behind the scenes, the government plans to destroy all chance of the two-state solution and flood the area with new settlements."
"The issue of the tenders is unequivocal evidence of Netanyahu's intention of sabotaging the chances for an agreement."
According to Haaretz editors, Netanyahu allegedly playing " 'good cop' can't hide the reality for long."
"And the reality is that (he lets) an extremist representative of the settlers hold a job that involves enormous diplomatic sensitivity."
At issue is Uri Ariel. Nominally he's housing and construction minister. He's "supposed to look out for thousands of" Israelis who need housing.
He's "supposed to alter the situation of" unaffordability. He's "supposed to work energetically and resolutely to rehabilitate distressed neighborhoods."
"The problem is that Ariel isn't really interested in any of these major issues for which his ministry is responsible."
"Instead, most of his energy is invested in his (real) job: minister of settlements."
Netanyahu appointed him for that reason. Doing so reveals his true agenda. Accelerated construction isn't surprising. Expect virtually no change ahead.
If Netanyahu intends otherwise, said Haaretz editors, "he must transfer Ariel from the post of housing and construction minister and replace him with a minister whose goals are professional rather than political."
Whether Ariel stays or goes doesn't matter. Israel's settlement program remains unchanged. It's longstanding.
Construction continues unabated. Netanyahu demands it. So do Likudnik hardliners, his coalition partners and more dovish Knesset members.
Longstanding Israeli policy remains firm. It's not a left or right issue. Construction began shortly after Israel's June 1967 Six Day War.
In July, kibbutzniks established a Golan Heights settlement. In September, Orthodox Israelis built the first West Bank one.
From 1967 to 1977, around 30 settlements were established. They were mainly in Jordan Valley locations. Population numbered about 5,000.
Under Prime Minister Menachem Begin (1977 - 1983), construction accelerated. Dozens of new settlements were added.
Increasing amounts of Palestinian land were stolen. Construction continues unabated.
Pursuing it violates international law. It's clear and unequivocal. Settlements are illegal. Israeli claims otherwise don't wash.
Article 46 of the Hague Convention prohibits confiscation of private property in occupied territory.
Article 55 says "the occupying state shall be regarded only as administrator of public buildings, real estate, forests and agricultural estates."
"It must safeguard the capital of these properties, and administer them in accordance with the rules of usufruct."
According to civil law, usufruct refers to the right of one party to use and enjoy the property of another, provided it's without impairment or alteration.
A usufructuary right would permit using water from a stream to generate electrical power.
Doing so is distinguishable from illegally claiming ownership of another party's property.
Israel systematically violates usufructuary principles. They prohibit stealing another party's property.
Fourth Geneva's Article 49 states:
"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."
Security Council Resolution 446 (1979) prohibits confiscation of occupied territory. Doing so "ha(s) no legal validity and constitute(s) a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East."
Resolution 465 (1980) called on Israel to "dismantle the existing settlements."
In 2010, Washington vetoed a Security Council resolution pertaining to settlements. All 14 other SC members supported it.
Draft text language:
"reaffirm(ed) past Council decisions that Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, are illegal and constitute a major obstacle to peace;
reiterate(d) previous demands that Israel completely cease all settlement activity;
call(ed) on both parties to act on the basis of international law and previous agreements, including the Road Map, to create conditions necessary to promote the peace process;
call(ed) on both parties to continue negotiations in
line with the Quartet statement of 21 September
urge(d) intensification of international and regional
diplomatic efforts towards peace."
In 2004, the International Court of Justice ruled that "Israeli settlements, including East Jerusalem, are illegal and an obstacle to peace."
Israel built illegally for decades. Around 600,000 settlers occupy over half the West Bank and parts of East Jerusalem.
Accelerated construction is planned. Doing so requires stealing Palestinian land, demolishing private homes, and dispossessing residents.
Francis Boyle calls settlements "clearly illegal and criminal. All the settlements, as the World Court ruled in the advisory opinion on the (Separation) Wall, all these settlements violate the Fourth Geneva Convention, and a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention is a war crime."
"All these so-called settlers are committing war crimes, except the children, who are obviously not old enough to formulate a criminal intent."
Thomas Buergenthal is a former International Court of Justice judge. He's a Nazi holocaust survivor.
In 2004, he concurred with other ICJ judges. He ruled settlements are illegal. They violate Fourth Geneva.
Netanyahu and other proponents are war criminals. So are PA officials like Abbas. They do nothing to stop them.
Failure to act responsibly reflects complicity. Pursuing sham peace talks compounds other crimes.
Palestinians remain on their own for justice. Abbas and other PA Israeli collaborators deny them.
A Final Comment
November 14 marks the first anniversary of Operation Pillar of Cloud. It lasted eight days.
Over 170 Palestinians were murdered in cold blood. Most were civilian men, women, children, the elderly and infirm.
Hundreds of others were wounded, many seriously. Their shattered bodies bear testimony to Israeli ruthlessness.
Entire families were slaughtered. Israeli missiles targeted their homes. Systematic war crimes were committed. A year later, justice remains denied.
Palestinian lawyers submitted 246 civil complaints. They did so for just compensation. Israel's Military Advocate General spurned them.
Cast Lead victims fared no better. Israeli war criminals go unpunished. They're free to mass murder again. Expect them to take full advantage. Expect them to enjoy full US support.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
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