‘Blatantly Violating International Law’: Israel Plans West Bank Settlement Expansion

 Bezalel Smotrich

Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, seen here during an October 6, 2022 press conference, said on Monday June 12, 2023 that “big news for the settlements” would be announced “imminently.” 

(Photo: Gil Cohen-Magen/AFP via Getty Images)

One Israel-based group asserted the government’s new annexation moves “entrench Jewish supremacy and apartheid in the West Bank.”


Jun 12, 2023 – https://www.commondreams.org/

Human rights defenders on Monday blasted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right apartheid government after it reportedly informed the Biden administration of plans to build thousands of new Jewish-only settler homes in the illegally occupied West Bank of Palestine.

Three Israeli and U.S. officials toldAxios that Israel will announce later this month its intention to build at least 4,000 homes in existing West Bank settler colonies. Over the weekend, Israeli and international media reported that Netanyahu’s government would postpone plans for what’s known as the E1 project due to U.S. pressure.

For two decades Israeli and international human rights experts have called the settlements—which are illegal under Article 49 of the 4th Geneva Convention and the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) Rome Statute—part of Israel’s apartheid regime. The seizure of Palestinian land in the occupied territories is also a war crime under the Rome Statute.

“The American government can and should materially pressure Israel to stop impeding on Palestinian human rights.”

Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who opined in 2021 that all—not just most—Arabs should have been ethnically cleansed from Palestine at Israel’s birth, said during a Monday press conference that “we will have big news for the settlements in the West Bank imminently.”

The Biden administration has largely turned a blind eye to Israeli settlement construction and expansion but says it is strongly opposed to E1 because it would reduce the Palestinian population in East Jerusalem and further diminish faint hopes of any so-called two-state solution.

“Since the new Israeli government was inaugurated in December 2022, it has taken a series of alarming steps to accelerate its annexation of the West Bank, aiming to fulfill its commitments to increase Jewish settlements and ultimately extend Israeli sovereignty across the West Bank,” tweeted Adalah, an Israel-based advocacy group for Arab minority rights.

\u201cIf a settlement in one narrow corridor like E-1 would prevent territorial contiguity, there is no potential for such contiguity in the first place. Stop the wishful thinking– #Israel has ensured that there is no physical possibility of 2 states anymore. \n\nhttps://t.co/MtKYKKn2Cc\u201d

— Mitchell Plitnick \ud83d\udd25\ud83d\udd4e (@Mitchell Plitnick \ud83d\udd25\ud83d\udd4e) 1686588042

Adalah asserted that Israel’s new annexation moves “entrench Jewish supremacy and apartheid in the West Bank” by steps including:

  • The institutional transfer of authority from military to civilian government offices in order to dismantle the authority of the military’s administration, assert Israeli state sovereignty, and promote the settlements;
  • The further “regularization” and expansion of illegal settlements; and
  • The direct application of Israeli domestic law to the occupied West Bank.

“These are part of an explicit plan by Israel to annex swaths of the West Bank and institute full Israeli sovereignty over them,” Adalah asserted. “They violate international law, including the Rome Statute, constituting crimes against humanity (apartheid), war crimes, and a crime of aggression.”

\u201cH.R. 3103, Defending the Human Rights of Palestinian Children and Families Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act was introduced about a month ago by @BettyMcCollum04.\n\nSign onto our petition to get all members of the Progressive Caucus to cosponsor: https://t.co/JlFdqJC2nZ\u201d

— Justice Democrats (@Justice Democrats) 1686582157

In the United States, the progressive political group Justice Democrats called on Congress to pass H.R. 3103, the Defending the Human Rights of Palestinian Children and Families Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act. The measure—which was introduced last month by Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.)—would ensure that no U.S. tax dollars are used by the Israeli military to imprison Palestinian children, force Palestinians out of their homes or demolish their property, or further expand settlements and steal Palestinian land.

The U.S. gives Israel around $3.8 billion in mostly unconditional military aid each year.