by Samar Assad (Friday, November 14, 2008)
Media Monitors Network
"...the one year anniversary of the Annapolis Conference will pass with no more than Israel stating its goal of creating a Palestinian state. However, what no Israeli leaders will state is Israel's commitment to the establishment of an independent, viable and sovereign Palestinian state."
One year after Israelis and Palestinians reaffirmed their commitment to their obligations under the Road Map for peace at a U.S.-sponsored international meeting in Annapolis on 27 November 2007, Israeli settlement activity, the demolition of Palestinian homes and military checkpoints in the Occupied Palestinian Territory have increased. A report released by the Palestinian Negotiations Affairs Department (NAD) details the Israeli violations and lists other serious infringements that took place since the November 2007 Annapolis Conference.
According to the Road Map, Israel is to "freeze all settlement activity." Yet in the eleven months since Annapolis, Israel's settlement activity has "intensified," especially in and around East Jerusalem. Citing data from the Israeli Ministry of Construction and Housing, the NAD report lists construction projects in nine West Bank settlements. The construction expands the settlements by 4,674 housing units in the West Bank. Ninety-two percent of the units are in metropolitan Jerusalem. According to the Israeli government figures, of the 4,674 post-Annapolis units, 2,209 have been sold.
In addition to the expansion of existing settlements, in the nine months after Annapolis, Israel started construction on at least 697 new housing units in the West Bank. Again, citing Israeli government data, the post-Annapolis construction of new settlement units is a 45 percent increase of government-initiated construction.
The NAD report states that in the eleven months since Annapolis, Israel has issued 18 tenders for settlement construction-a total of 2,210 new housing units. When compared to tenders in the months prior to Annapolis, the NAD found that post-Annapolis the Israeli government issued tenders for more than 16 times as many housing units. Furthermore, 80 percent of the new units are in settlements in East Jerusalem. Prior to the Annapolis conference, 34 percent of tenders were for East Jerusalem settlements.
Since Annapolis, Israel has focused its settlement activity mainly in East Jerusalem where it has advanced plans for nearly 10,000 units. According to the NAD report, 4,370 units in East Jerusalem have been approved and are awaiting immediate implementation. They include 620 units in East Talpiot; 2,653 units in Jabal Abu Ghneim or Har Homa; 759 in Pisgat Ze'ev; and 338 in Ramot. Awaiting public review are plans for 5,247 units in the settlements of East Talpoit, Giv'at HaMatos, Neve Ya'aqov and Ramot.
In the six months after Annapolis, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak approved the construction of at least 946 housing units in Ariel, Avenat, Betar 'Illit, Elqana, Efrat, Givat Ze'ev, Ma'ale Adumim, Modi'in 'Illit, Talmon, Negohot and Sha'are Tiqva. Furthermore, on 9 March 2008, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert revoked a 2001 suspension on a 750 unit project in Giv'at Ze'ev.
While the Road Map requires Israel to "immediately dismantle settlement outposts erected since March 2001," Israel has failed to carry out this requirement. Instead, Israel has allowed the expansion of the 110 outposts. According to Peace Now, approximately 124 new structures have been added to the outposts since Annapolis, including at least 30 permanent houses.
According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN-OCHA), approximately 415 kilometers (57 percent) of the 723 kilometer planned Wall has been completed with another 9 percent currently under construction.
Based on statistics from the Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions (ICAHD), Israel has demolished at least 330 Palestinian homes and other structures since Annapolis. Of those, 95 were in East Jerusalem. The number of demolitions since Annapolis represents an overall increase of 25 percent over the 11-month period prior to Annapolis.
Citing data from UN-OCHA, the report states that between 30 April and 11 September 2008, Israel established some 630 checkpoints, roadblocks and other physical barriers restricting Palestinian movement throughout the West Bank. The figure signifies a 12 percent increase of checkpoints and barriers since the November 2007 Annapolis Conference.
Civilian Deaths and Injuries
While Israel has violated its pledge at Annapolis to abide by its Road Map obligations as related to settlement activity, closure, home demolitions and the Wall, its most serious violation has been in its failure to meet its obligations to "take no actions undermining trust, including...attacks on civilians..."
Between the launch of Annapolis in November 2007 and 28 October 2008, Israeli forces have killed 514 Palestinians of which 17 percent are children. During the same period, Israeli forces have injured 2,112 Palestinians of which 23 percent are children.
With such developments on the ground, the one year anniversary of the Annapolis Conference will pass with no more than Israel stating its goal of creating a Palestinian state. However, what no Israeli leaders will state is Israel's commitment to the establishment of an independent, viable and sovereign Palestinian state.