Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Israel bulldozer Masafer Yatta

Israeli soldiers watch as a bulldozer destroys Palestinian homes in Masafer Yatta in the occupied West Bank on August 14, 2017. Israel's high court has approved the destruction of eight Palestinian hamlets in Masafer Yatta, a move that will displace at least 1,000 people. (Photo: Mamoun Wazwaz/Andalou Agency via Getty Images)

After Court OKs 'Ethnic Cleansing' in West Bank, Israel Advances 4,000 Settler Homes

"Every Israeli settlement in the occupied Palestinian territories is a war crime. With every new announcement, Israel further consolidates its racially segregated apartheid regime."

Brett Wilkins

Less than two days after Israel's highest court upheld orders for what anti-apartheid campaigners called the "ethnic cleansing" of eight Palestinian hamlets in the West Bank, Israeli authorities on Friday announced the advancement of nearly 4,000 new Jewish-only settlement homes in the illegally occupied territory.

"It is an indicator that Israel is violating international law with impunity and without accountability, and it shows that the international community is using double standards."

Far-right Israeli Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked—who has advocated the genocidal extermination of Palestinians—tweeted that planning authorities would meet next week "in preparation for the construction of about 4,000 housing units" in 20 Jewish settler colonies.

Haaretz reports Israel's Civil Administration said 2,536 homes are expected to be approved by Defense Minister Benny Gantz in a meeting scheduled for next Thursday, while plans for 1,452 additional housing units are expected to be advanced.

Issa Amro, the Palestinian founder of the group Youth Against Settlements, told Al Jazeera that the expansion will bring "more Israeli settler violence towards Palestinians in the West Bank" and more "restrictions and apartheid policies" targeting his people.

"It is an indicator that Israel is violating international law with impunity and without accountability," he added, "and it shows that the international community is using double standards with Israel."

Josh Ruebner, national advocacy director of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and founder of Jews for Peace in Palestine and Israel, tweeted, "Just in time for #Nakba74, Israel will greenlight 2,536 new illegal settlement units on occupied Palestinian land on Thursday."

Ruebner was referring to the upcoming 74th anniversary of the Nakba, or "catastrophe," when more than 700,000 Palestinians were ethnically cleansed from their homeland by Jews establishing the modern state of Israel.

"What more accurate way," he added, "to show the ongoing nature of Zionism's project to dispossess the Palestinian people of their land?"

Shaked hailed the unlawful expansion of the settlements—which, like the occupation, are illegal under international law—as "basic, welcomed, and obvious," according to The Jerusalem Post.

However, Mossi Raz, a lawmaker with the leftist party Meretz—a member of right-wing Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's fragile governing coalition—said the plan is "immoral and harms the future of Israeli citizens," The Times of Israel reports.

If approved, the Israeli plan would be the most significant settlement expansion during U.S. President Joe Biden's tenure. Like previous American administrations—with the notable exception of that of former President Donald Trump—Biden's claims to oppose settlement expansion, a policy that imperils the so-called "two-state solution" to Israel's colonization and occupation of Palestine.

However, U.S. military aid, currently $3.8 billion annually under a deal authorized in 2016 by then-President Barack Obama, continues to flow unconditionally to Israel regardless of its flagrant violations of international law.

The announcement of thousands of new settler homes a month before the American president is scheduled to travel to Israel is likely to anger the U.S. administration. It is also reminiscent of when the government of former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approved 1,600 new Jews-only housing units in East Jerusalem during a 2010 visit by then-Vice President Biden.

Biden at the time condemned the move as "precisely the kind of step that undermines the trust we need right now."

Last October, Israel approved 3,000 new West Bank settler homes despite the Biden administration's professed strong opposition.

The latest plans for Israeli settlement expansion follow a Wednesday verdict by Israel's High Court of Justice upholding an order to expel as many as over 2,000 Palestinians from eight hamlets in the Masafer Yatta region of the southern West Bank to make way for an Israeli military firing and training zone.

Masafer Yatta residents have long endured attacks by both Israeli military forces and militant Israeli settlers. Last September, a mob of as many as 100 masked settlers invaded the village of Khirbat al-Mufkara, wounding 12 Palestinians including a three-year-old.

International human rights organizations condemned the court's ruling—which violates the Fourth Geneva Convention—with the Israeli group B'Tselem asserting that the justices "once again fulfilled their role in Israel's regime of Jewish supremacy and paved the way for the crime of forcible transfer to be committed."

Reacting to the verdict, MSNBC host Mehdi Hasan tweeted: "This is horrific, this is illegal, and this being funded by us, by U.S. taxpayers. Don't look away."

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'Dangerous Moment': Record Deforestation in Amazon Shows Stakes of Brazil Election

The runoff between Bolsonaro and Lula, warned one activist, is "not just about the future of Brazil, the result will have an impact on all of humanity."

Jessica Corbett ·

At Least 13 Migrant Justice Activists Arrested Protesting Court's Anti-DACA Ruling

"We need Congress to act on citizenship now," said one protester, "so we no longer have to live in fear and can continue to prosper in this country we call home."

Brett Wilkins ·

Advocates Tell Canada's High Court to End Asylum Deal With US Over Safety Concerns

"The United States is not a safe place for refugee claimants escaping persecution," said one human rights campaigner.

Julia Conley ·

Democracy Defenders Plan 70+ Actions to Protect 'Our Freedoms and Our Vote' From GOP Assault

Trump and his allies "incited a violent attack on the Capitol in order to overturn the 2020 election and stop the peaceful transfer of power," organizers warn. "The same individuals are continuing work to sabotage our elections."

Kenny Stancil ·

Decrying 'Horrible Madness of War,' Irish MEPs Call for Diplomacy in Ukraine

"Most people seem to get off on the fact that it's escalating," said socialist MEP Clare Daly, who condemned the E.U. for doing nothing to prevent Russia's war from becoming "a wider horror."

Jake Johnson ·

Common Dreams Logo