Monday morning, planned settlement expansion began execution.
Foreign occupation is one thing. Extending absolute authority and claiming permanent ownership of land is an extension of that, which is the vulgarity of the four-decade-plus Israeli occupation of the Palestinian West Bank.
The 10-month “settlement freeze” loosely executed by the Israeli government expired Sunday and the bulldozers were out in full effect by Monday morning, Chaim Levinson and Barak Ravid reported today at Ha’aretz.
Maria Kornalian and Tom Kutsch wrote at Foreign Policy‘s “Middle East Channel” blog’s “Daily News Brief”:
Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu refused to extend the 10-month partial freeze on settlements, which he allowed to expire at midnight on Sunday. The Prime Minister urged Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to continue engaging in peace talks, despite the resumption of settlement construction. “I call on President Abbas to continue with the good and honest talks we have just embarked upon, in an attempt to reach a historic peace agreement between our two peoples,” Netanyahu said today. Abbas has put off a decision on whether or not to continue with direct negotiations while he consults other Arab governments. He has yet to release an official response to Israel’s resumption of settlement construction, but said on Sunday in Paris that Israel would have to make a decision: “Either peace or settlements.”
The official discourse remains that Mr. Abbas is the bad guy if refuses to budge on settlement expansion, though it’s uncontroversial that land authority, occupation, and usage are the core of all border disputes between governing apparatchiks.
The Ha’aretz report added:
Construction of dozens of housing units also resumed in the settlements of Ravava, Yakir and Kochav a Hashachar, where bulldozers began clearing ground for new developments, which received permits before the freeze began.
Settlers currently have plans for around 2,000 new homes across the West Bank. Of these, around 600 have up-to-date paperwork and are expected to be completed in the coming months.
Construction is expected to begin on Tuesday at a number of sites including Shavei Shomron, Adam, Oranit, Sha’arei Tikva, Kedumim and Karmei Tzur. A cornerstone is to be laid for a new neighborhood in the southern West Bank settlement of Beit Hagai, with construction set to start soon.
After the Sukkot holiday, the Yesha Council of settlements and local West Bank councils are expected to pressure Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu into approving new construction.
The ruling party of the State of Israel lobbied for U.S. congressional consent for settlement expansion at the same time so-called “peace talks” began between Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Abbas.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said over a week ago of renewing the freeze-in-principle, “Well, that certainly is our hope.”
In action, the U.S. government is rewarding Tel Aviv’s actions with $2.75bn in free fighter jets for its Air Force “that allow preemptive strikes”.