With more than 6,000 new housing units approved by the Israeli government for construction beyond the green line, 2012 turned out to have been a record year for the settlement enterprise, according to a report released Wednesday by the left-wing NGO Peace Now.
The report said there were over 1,400 new construction projects started in the West Bank for the year, and noted that many of the newly approved units were slates for isolated settlements that Israel presumably would not seek to keep in a future peace agreement with the Palestinians.
Specifically, Peace Now cited Tekoa and Nokdim in Gush Etzion, and Har Brakha, Kedumim and Alei Zahav in Samaria, as settlements where increased construction took place over the year.
The report also noted the government’s decision to build up E1, the bitterly contested tract between Jerusalem and the settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim. Critics say Israeli construction in the area would preclude the possibility of a territorially contiguous Palestinian state.
Over the weekend, Palestinian protesters who erected a tent city to protest the construction plans in E1 were removed by police, although the tents remained due to a High Court of Justice injunction ruling that they were on Palestinian-owned land. On Tuesday, hundreds of activists marched back to the site, which they call Bab a-Shams, and attempted to rekindle the protest. Police dispersed the demonstraters.
The Supreme Court decision to halt the removal of the tent city came after four Bedouin families who claim the land submitted a petition. Tawfiq Jabarin presented their case, which contended the tents were erected on private lands as part of a project that attracts tourists to learn about their culture, known as “Albadia.” The petition further claimed the initiative, which includes learning how to bake pita or milling flour on stones, only takes places seasonally, in the winter and spring, Haaretz reported.
The High Court was set to rule Wednesday on a state appeal demanding permission to remove the tents.