Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

The Spiegel report on Israeli settlements

by shergald Sat Jan 31st, 2009 at 09:53:03 AM EST

Introduction to the translated version of the Speigel report.

"Spiegel database" of West Bank settlements and outposts
Developed by the Israeli Ministry of Defense

Enclosed are translations of excerpts from a classified Israeli government database never before released to the public. This database has been in assembly since 2004, when then-Minister of Defense Shaul Mofaz tasked Brigadier General (Res.) Baruch Spiegel with building a database to include up-to-date reference for all statutory aspects of settlements and outposts in the West Bank.

The report data demonstrates:

Over 30 settlements - including longstanding settlements such as Ariel, Kochav Yaakov, Beit El, Elon Moreh and Ofrah - that were to some extent built on private Palestinian land.

Construction activity within settlements being conducted without necessary building permits or in direct violation of the building plans.

The extent and locations of unauthorized building in outposts across the West Bank.

January 30, 2009

Secret database shows Israeli government to be active partner in settlement land grab is Philip Weiss' title to this story printed in the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz (from Mondoweiss). Weiss describes the story as "huge ": Secret Israeli database reveals full extent of illegal settlement The story outlines a database created by the Israeli defense establishment to gather:

credible and accessible information at the ready to contend with legal actions brought by Palestinian residents, human rights organizations and leftist movements challenging the legality of construction in the settlements and the use of private lands to establish or expand them.

Perhaps what is left out of the story is the extent to which Israeli occupation forces over the years collaborated with settler teams to wrest Palestinian land from its owners, using harassment, violence, house demolitions, and destruction of farmlands and orchards (see Israel's land grab caper: how it works by tiztiq, Daily Kos).

Now we have admission on the part of the military of this collaboration in building the settlements, all of which are illegal according to international law.
Weiss says,

The (Haartez) article adds, "the painstakingly amassed data was labeled political dynamite."

Well the dynamite has exploded.

There is much that can, and will, be said about this report. The initial take home message is that whenever you read or see a story where theIsraeli government is presented as a counter balance to the "radical settler movement" you now know this is false. The Israeli government has been supporting and expanding the settlement project in the occupied territories all along, and it is now documented. The settlements have long been viewed as an exception, out of the government's control, an issue that will be dealt with later. They should now be viewed as the rule. This point is made clear by a settler leader himself:

"Nothing was done in hiding," says Pinchas Wallerstein, director-general of the Yesha Council of settlements and a leading figure in the settlement project. "I'm not familiar with any [building] plans that were not the initiative of the Israeli government."

Dror Etkes, an anti-settlement activist with the Israeli NGO Yesh Din has now published an analysis of the database today, along with an English translation of excerpts (the Ha'aretz article contains the database in Hebrew). Etkes says:

There is no doubt that this is the most important database that has ever been exposed on this issue, covering the activities of the State of Israel in the context of the settlement enterprise. It includes reference to additional statutory issues that until now have never been dealt with in public, and in fact proves a colossal violation of the law in nearly every aspect, applicable to most of the settlements - building without permit, land-theft, etc. This proves again that the State and the settlers have an unwritten agreement that divides the work between them: While settlers, through public bodies which they control, actually perform most of the illegal construction and trespassing, the State finances and provides sweeping and ongoing immunity to these criminal activities.

The Etkes analysis and the English translation of parts of the database can be downloaded from Mondoweiss.

During the Clinton administration, the rate and number of settlers moving into the Palestinian territories doubled. But during that period as well, Ariel Sharon was Minister of Agriculture. Using this position, he instituted the 'dunam by dunam' policy (a dunam is about a quarter of an acre), which was intended to encourage IDF-settler teams to procure Palestinian land a bit at a time. The result was new "illegal" settlements, usually on hilltops, but also the expansion of existing settlements. The result: 290,000 Israeli settlers controlling, with the help of the IDF, 42% of the Palestinian territories (not including the Gaza settlements, which were given up).
During the Bush administration, although the Road Map (based on George Mitchell's 2001 report, which again proposed the two states solution) called for Israel to stop settlement building, it never complied and the Bush administration never complained. Cement continued to pour throughout the eight years of Bush.

No doubt that today, settlements is largest impediment to peace in the Middle East.

by shergald on Sat Jan 31st, 2009 at 12:06:21 PM EST
Another excellent diary, shergald. I'm not sure if it was in your most recent post or another I/P diary I read on this topic, but someone suggested one of the most effective weapons the Palestinians have is the video camera and world outrage.

They should have a campaign of civil disobedience against these settlements (blocking their access , blocking the highways, refusing to stop at the road blocks) with everyone armed with a video cameras to capture the Israeli response. Also, they should make video records of the nightly trash thrown on them by the settlers.

Then we need to get those videos out to the world, because only when international shame is brought to bare will these settlements be stopped.

For those who renounce the use of violence (and I count myself among that crowd), the next best thing is civil disobedience 'armed' with a direct way to communicate with the world by passing the media filters.

by delicatemonster (delicatemons@delicatemonster.com) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 05:05:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If I'm not mistaken, it was the Israeli human rights group, B'Tselem, which issued a hundred free video cameras to Palestinians living in the territories. They have captured scenes of soldiers abusing civilians and some of the shots appeared on Youtube in videos.

by shergald on Tue Feb 3rd, 2009 at 09:51:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for this diary.  Disturbing - but not surprising.  Well done.
by cambridgemac on Sat Jan 31st, 2009 at 09:27:57 PM EST
File this under Yet another war crime.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sat Jan 31st, 2009 at 10:17:23 PM EST
I didn't have an appreciation for the scope of the 'settlements' until I saw some brief clips during the Moyer report which you posted the other day.

If the word 'settlement' was ever appropriate, which the Ben-Gurion 'quote' below belies, it is clearly a misnomer now, meant to hide the real meaning...similar to the innocence of the word 'wall'.

"I built a wall between your house and mine. I hope you don't mind."

"I built a little settlement on that property of yours over there that you were only using for some olive grooves and grazing and source of water for the region. I hope you don't mind."

"Oops. I did it again. Sorry."

[Knowing that accuracy is important, I just spent hours trying to verify the following quote. I suppose the only way is to buy the book. The history of the alleged author (Nahum Goldmann) of the alleged quote is amazingly interesting. Whether the quote is actual and well translated is almost beside the point, since it describes the truth of the matter.]  

Jewish villages were built in the place of Arab villages.

You do not even know the names of these Arab villages, and I do not blame you because geography books no longer exist. Not only do the books not exist, the Arab villages are not there either.

Nahlal arose in the place of Mahlul; Kibbutz Gvat in the place of Jibta; Kibbutz Sarid in the place of Huneifis; and Kefar Yehushua in the place of Tal al-Shuman. There is not a single place built in this country that did not have a former Arab population.

      David Ben Gurion, quoted in The Jewish Paradox
                     Nahum Goldmann, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1978, p. 99.

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Sun Feb 1st, 2009 at 06:33:24 AM EST
There was a wonderful (i.e. disturbing) post by Bernard Avishai at tpmcafe after he went to Hebron, explaining on what you can expect if you're living close to the "settlements." An excerpt:

There is nothing random about what the settlers are doing. In Hebron, the idea is to create a land bridge from Kiryat Arba to the Tomb of the Patriarchs. It is Abed el-Hai's bad luck that his home is in the way, in the wadi below Kiryat Arba, which the settlers want to turn "Jewish." Most nights, Kiryat Arba residents throw rocks, garbage, and bags of urine into his yard. In the area known as H-2, where the settlers have rights under the Wye Agreement (you know, the agreement then-prime minster Netanyahu negotiated in 1998), the Arab population has declined from about 35,000 to 18,000.

The rest of the article is at http://tpmcafe.talkingpointsmemo.com/2008/12/22/hebron_agonistes_too_much_for/.

by Mia (mia dot see aitch ee en dot mtl at gmail dot com) on Sun Feb 1st, 2009 at 12:47:08 PM EST
Thank you, shergald.  I´m glad you are here and not at dk, which I don´t read.

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.
by metavision on Sun Feb 1st, 2009 at 08:12:00 PM EST
Yes yes~! 100% agreement.

Please. Don't. Stop.

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 07:41:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Al Jazeera English - Europe - Abbas: 90,000 Gazans left homeless

At least 90,000 Palestinians have lost their homes as a result of Israel's war on Gaza, Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, has told the European parliament in France.

Abbas told politicians gathered in Strasbourg on Wednesday that Israeli blockades and illegal settlement expansion have continued, and called for Israel to answer for its activities.

"We should no longer deal with Israel as a state above the law, above all accountability, above international law," Abbas said.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Feb 4th, 2009 at 08:59:00 AM EST
Abbas and the Fatah group he leads have long been considered dupes whose role was to pacify the Palestinian people, while the building of settlements continues. Israel's latest tactic has been to get the Palestinians fighting among themselves.

One day someone will write a play called "Tea with Olmert." And like Waiting for Godot, the dialogue will be a meaningless merry-go-round of irrelevant statements.

by shergald on Wed Feb 4th, 2009 at 09:40:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the word 'We' in there I thought was particularly telling.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Feb 4th, 2009 at 09:53:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It could mean "we Palestinians," but it might not mean conciliation with Hamas or all Palestinians.

I haven't heard much about the results, but Jimmy Carter was reported in Cairo recently attempting to reconciliate the factions, Fatah and Hamas. It was a serious mistake for Abbas to permit the US and Israel to isolate Hamas. All it did was given the Israelis another reason to stall peace negotiations.

by shergald on Wed Feb 4th, 2009 at 05:15:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The puppeteer's face has changed, but the show may... remain the same


Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.

by metavision on Wed Feb 4th, 2009 at 07:13:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ben is a very talented political cartoonist. Although his material is too hard hitting for the USA, it make a point with no holds barred.

by shergald on Thu Feb 5th, 2009 at 10:37:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ben is a very talented political cartoonist. Although his material is too hard hitting for the USA, it make a point with no holds barred.

by shergald on Thu Feb 5th, 2009 at 10:37:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]

Top Diaries