The PIEF is an international, inter-church advocacy initiative for peace in Israel and Palestine

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    Settlements have been identified as a focal issue of the Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum (PIEF).

    An illegal Israeli settlement near Bethlehem. © Paul Jeffrey/Action by Churches Together

    The World Council of Churches' Central Committee approved a statement in September 2009 describing the settlement policy of the state of Israel in the occupied Palestinian territories as an obstacle to the fulfilment of the promise for a viable Palestinian state and antithetical to the legitimate interests of the state of Israel. PIEF has steadfastly opposed creation of new settlements and expansion of existing ones.

    Human rights in the occupied territories

    The Israeli Information Centre for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories has put together a backgrounder on settlements that has been updated in June 2012. B’Tselem narrates how “Israeli civilians have perpetrated various forms of violence against Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, damaging their lands, their persons and their property. In recent years, settlers have carried out violent acts under the slogan “price tag.” B'Tselem has documented many such acts including the blocking of roads, throwing stones at cars and houses, making incursions into Palestinian villages and land, torching fields, uprooting trees, and other damage to property”. Read more...

    Separate and unequal: Israel’s discriminatory treatment of Palestinians in the occupied territories

    This report consists of a series of case studies that compare Israel’s different treatment of Jewish settlements to nearby Palestinian communities throughout the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. It describes the two-tier system of laws, rules, and services that Israel operates for the two populations in areas in the West Bank under its exclusive control, which provide preferential services, development, and benefits for Jewish settlers while imposing harsh conditions on Palestinians. The report highlights Israeli practices the only discernable purposes of which appear to be promoting life in the settlements while in many instances stifling growth in Palestinian communities and even forcibly displacing Palestinian residents.

    Such different treatment, on the basis of race, ethnicity, and national origin and not narrowly tailored to meet security or other justifiable goals, violates the fundamental prohibition against discrimination under human rights law. Read more...

    Israeli settlements and demolition of Palestinian homes

    The expansion of illegal settlements, the accompanying confiscation of Palestinian land and practice of demolishing Palestinian homes constitute an unrelenting cycle that deprives the Palestinian people of their shelter, property, land, freedom of movement and self-determination. Although the footprint of existing settlements is only 3 percent of the West Bank, the combination of Israeli infrastructure, room set aside for settlement growth, Israeli-only road systems, military zones and Israeli-dedicated nature reserves in the West Bank, causes almost 40% of the West Bank to be off limits to Palestinians.

    If current plans are fulfilled, the northern West Bank will be cut off from the southern West Bank and Palestinians will be pushed into isolated enclaves with little freedom of movement and very limited water, arable land and access to decent livelihoods. This increasing fragmentation of the West Bank population, and the shrinking area available for its 2.5 million Palestinian residents, are major obstacles to the goal of two states living side by side in peace and security. Read more

    Statements from U.S. government officials concerning Israeli settlements

    The policy of all Israeli governments since 1967 of settling Israeli citizens in the territories Israel occupied in the 1967 war is regarded by most governments as a violation of international law defined by the “Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War.” In 2004, the International Court of Justice confirmed this in an advisory opinion.

    The United States supported the applicability of the Geneva Convention and the unlawful character of settlements until February 1981 when President Ronald Reagan disavowed this policy by asserting that settlements are “not illegal.” President Reagan’s policy has been sustained, implicitly, by subsequent U.S. administrations, all of whom have declined to address the legal issue, although they have all opposed, with varying emphasis, settlements or settlement expansion. Read more...

    Statistics and tables on settlements in Palestinian territories

    In an effort to better inform the public about the scope of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories, the Foundation for Middle East Peace (FMEP) maintains databases of population figures for settlements in the occupied territories. The statistics are not up-to-date but give a useful indication of what the trends are. Read more

    Under attack: settler violence against Palestinian children in the occupied Palestinian territory

    Over a two-year period, from March 2008 until July 2010, DCI-Palestine documented 38 incidents of settler violence directed at children. These incidents resulted in the direct injury or death of at least 45 children, and in the trauma and indirect injury of dozens of others, who either witnessed other children being assaulted or shot, or terrorised by a settler and/or soldier. 

    Settler Violence against Palestinian Children in the Occupied Palestinian Territory raids and mob attacks. The incidents occurred near a number of settlements in the governorates of Bethlehem, Ramallah, Salfit, Hebron, and Nablus.
    Shootings, the most severe form of settler violence, account for 14 of the incidents documented by DCI-Palestine, in which three Palestinian children were killed and 10 others were injured. Read report

    Settlement Database and Suitability Assessment by the FMEP

    In a study, the Foundation for Middle East Peace has examined to what degree the currently existing housing assets in Israeli settlements are suitable for Palestinian use. Towards this, they have developed an integrated database with four main themes.

    1.      Comprehensive database on Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories currently available.

    2.      Mapping of eight scenarios for settlement evacuation in the West Bank (including east Jerusalem).

    3.      Identification and mapping of those parts of the Occupied Territories that the Palestinian Authority itself believes are most suitable for the contemplated expansion of housing resources for Palestinians.

    4.      Degree to which every settlement and each evacuation scenario offer suitable housing opportunities for Palestinians.

    Access the database at fmep.org

    "When Settlers Attack"

    The Palestine Center report, When Settlers Attack, is comprised of data gathered over a span of seven years, from 2004 to 2011, that includes over 3,700 separate incidents of settler violence. It provides analysis as to why, how and when Israeli settler violence occurs. Read more...

    The most contentious settlements in the West Bank

    Settlements remain among the most litigious issues that plague the Arab-Israeli conflict. The international community has consistently held settlement activity as illegal. Israel’s most friendly countries condemn any form of settlement activity.

    This article (and the links within) analyzes some of the most contentious settlements and proceeds to argue why the settlements which have become the endgame in the contest for land, must be dealt with adequately and justly if any lasting peace is to be forthcoming. Read more...

    Maps of settlements

    The maps collected by the Jerusalem-based organization B'Tselem picture and provide a descriptive account of how settlements impact everyday Palestinian life in the occupied territories. B'Tselem has championed human rights in the West Bank and Gaza Strip for over two decades, promoting a future where all Israelis and Palestinians will live in freedom and dignity.


    The importance of and the controversy over the E1 area

    This study by Ir Amim (“city of nations” or “city of peoples”), an NGO that focuses on Jerusalem within the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, makes an in depth analysis of the Israeli government’s plan to promote zoning plans for the area known as E1, northeast of Jerusalem. Ir Amin states that “the project is intended to link annexed East Jerusalem with the mega-settlement of Ma’aleh Adumin, thus finally making the creation of a contiguous Palestinian State impossible.”

    E1 (derived from “East 1”) is a term applied by the Ministry of Housing to an area located just east of the Jerusalem municipal boundary, on the hills between Ma’aleh Adummim and Jerusalem. It lies north of the Jerusalem-Ma’aleh Adummim road and edges the Palestinian towns of Anata, Abu Dis, Azariya and A-Zayim. E1, which covers some 12,000 dunams (12 sq. kilometers), is part of the planning area of Ma’aleh Adummim. The main artery between the northern and southern West Bank runs through E1.

    In recent years, Israel has begun building and settling the area. The development plan for E1 includes the transfer of the West Bank (Judea & Samaria) Police Headquarters from its present location, and the construction of at least 3,500 residential units, a large commercial center, and more. Plans for the E1 area make no reference whatsoever to the local Palestinian population.” Prime Minister has rejected the demand to reverse the decision saying Israel will not compromise its interests for “public applause”.

    For text and maps from Ir Amim, see:

    Also see Israel's E1 settlement project east of Jerusalem – in pictures:

    Settlement Monitor, edited by Geoffrey Aronson

    This collection covers items - reprinted articles, statistics, and maps - pertaining to Israeli settlement activities in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights.Unless otherwise stated, the items have been written by Geoffrey Aronson for this section or drawn from material written by him for Report on Israeli Settlement in the Occupied Territories , a Washington-based bimonthly newsletterpublished by the Foundation for Middle East Peace. 
    Online at http://palestine-studies.org (pdf)

    The humanitarian impact of Israeli settlement policies - updated December 2012

    United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs occupied Palestinian territory has compiled a report valid uptil December 2012 showing the humanitarian impacts of Israel's settlement policies. Since 1967, Israel has established about 150 settlements (residential and others) in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem; in addition to some 100 "outposts" erected by settlers without official authorization. Three new settlements were approved in 2012 by retroactively ‘authorizing’ such outpost.

    Online at www.ochaopt.org (pdf)

    Resource: EU heads of mission report on Israeli settlements

    European Union heads of mission to the Palestinian Authority, have released a strongly-worded report very critical of Israel's settlement activities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The draft, is to be presented to the EU's Political Security Committee (PSC/COPPS). Among its recommendations are preventing financial transactions that support settlements and informing EU companies of the legal and financial risks of doing business with and in Israeli settlements. The report was prepared in January 2013 and covers 2012.

    Report of an international fact-finding mission on impact of settlements

    This report was published in 2013 by an independent international fact-finding mission on the implications of Israeli settlements on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. The present report was submitted pursuant to resolution 19/17 in which the UN Human Rights Council decided to establish the independent international fact-finding mission to investigate the implications of the Israeli settlements.

    Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

    This report provides information on the status of implementation of the recommendations contained in the report published in 2013 by an independent international fact-finding mission (see above). The comissioner's report addresses continued Israeli settlement activity, settler violence and accountability, Palestinian detainees, including children in Israeli custody, as well as business and human rights in relation to the settlements. The report also includes summaries of the submissions received from UN member states.

    The land of Israel is one settlement block

    The number of construction starts in West Bank settlements had more than doubled in 2013 to 2,534 units, which is more construction than took place in Tel Aviv. Close to 6 percent of all new construction last year was located in  West Bank settlements. In absolute terms, the number was the highest in a decade. In addition, there were more housing starts in Jerusalem in 2013 than anyplace in Israel. Most of this new construction is located in the settlement areas of East Jerusalem, almost doubling the settlements’ share of national construction. 
    Read more..

    The economics at the heart of Israel's illegal settlements

    Of all the hurdles to peace negotiations between Israeli and Palestinian leaders, perhaps the largest is the 150 or so Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
    These communities, considered illegal by the UN, are fracturing Israel's relationship even with its allies: The pro-Israeli head of the UK parliament's foreign affairs committee this year declared that a decision to develop a new settlement "outraged me more than anything else in my political life."



    Let’s Keep Talking
    This Easter season, members of United Church faith communities are invited to engage in “courageous conversations” about just peace in Palestine and Israel. These “Let’s Keep Talking” resources are designed to help participants move beyond some of the myths, barriers, and questions that hold many of us back from fully engaging in the Unsettling Goods campaign. May these faithful and challenging conversations seed new understandings and new relationships.