Sat 23 Sep 2023 11:20 am - Jerusalem Time
Report: Israeli Settlement is an investment project aimed at increasing number of settlers
The National Office for Land Defense and Settlement Resistance confirmed that settlement in the West Bank is an “investment project” sponsored by the occupying state, and provides it with all the ingredients for success to attract the largest number of settlers.
The office explained in its report that the occupying state is not content with seizing Palestinian lands in the occupied West Bank, including Jerusalem, with brutal tools and turning them into a vital field for its destructive settlement activities, but is also working to provide support to Israeli associations and companies that undertake construction operations in the settlements and market them as investment projects. To attract the largest number of settlers to live in these settlements.
He pointed out that this is an old, well-known issue, but it began to take on new and dangerous dimensions with Netanyahu forming his far-right government in partnership with the religious Zionist parties.
In order to reach the declared goal of increasing the number of settlers, the government (Netanyahu - Smotrich - Ben Gvir) not only sponsors settlement as the cornerstone of the policy and practices of the Zionist movement, but it also sponsors it as an investment project that attracts the participation of the private sector in more than one area and field.
Two important areas
In its report, the National Office reviewed two fields directly related to the theft of Palestinian lands. The first is investment in housing, while the second is investment in the theft of fertile Palestinian lands, especially in the Palestinian Jordan Valley. With the formation of the Israeli government, in which Bezalel Smotrich, alongside the Ministry of Finance, is responsible for civil administration and settlement affairs in the Ministry of the Army, conditions have become more ripe than ever before to intensify and deepen settlement in the West Bank, including Jerusalem, and to promote it as an investment project as well, with the aim of raising The number of settlers will reach one million by the end of 2024.
Investing in housing
In this context, the newspaper "Israel Hayom" recently published reports on the subject, and claimed that Jewish investors who seek to invest in relatively small amounts are active behind the Green Line in areas intended for settlement construction in the West Bank, where the residential apartment is initially marketed for about 170 thousand shekels. Only, investors rush to buy, a low price when compared to the price of an apartment within the borders of 1948, which today averages about 1.6 million shekels, according to the newspaper, especially since construction procedures in the West Bank are much faster than inside Israel, and more importantly The resulting profit is very large, and according to the newspaper’s expectations, from the moment the land is allocated for construction and the construction process progresses, the price of the apartment jumps to 600 thousand shekels, meaning the investors concerned get four times the value of the investment, and if the investors fear the possibility of freezing settlement construction, the current government The new one takes care of dispelling all these fears.
According to data circulating in Israeli circles, especially the far-right and settler media, companies such as “Dissi Construction and Investment”, “Tsarvati Shimon”, “Tamar and Yael”, “Avni Deresh”, “Z.F” and others have been carrying out operations for years. Building in the settlements and reaping huge profits from it, it confirms that its work after the rise of the fascist right to power in Israel is better than any previous period, and that those who do not invest in these areas do not understand what the current Israeli investment reality is.
Israel Hayom explains that the bureaucratic path to approving building plans in the West Bank is much simpler than it is within the 1948 borders, as the time frame for approving plans is very short. In addition, there are no improvement fees in land deals, that is, in the event of reclamation. And development, which leads to savings of 35% - 50% compared to similar deals in Israel, and she adds that construction in the West Bank has gained widespread legitimacy in recent years, as ministers, members of the Knesset, and mayors tour the region and make promises to establish new settlements and settlement cities. On these lands, they expect to receive significant support from the current Israeli government.
In general, and in order to encourage the move of settlers to live in the settlements, official government data show that every Israeli who moves to live in the settlements receives support of more than 50 thousand dollars annually, in addition to tax privileges and exemptions, many benefits, incentives and facilities, and the development of financial projects inside and around them.
Robbery of fertile lands
Investment in settlement is not limited to residential apartments in existing settlements, or those that are being prepared to be built by legitimizing dozens of settlement outposts and transforming them into new settlements or neighborhoods of existing settlements and what are also called pastoral farms, according to the plans of the current Israeli government. Rather, it extends over a wider area. To cover various economic sectors to which the occupying state provides many facilities and incentives, so that investors in these sectors achieve lucrative profits. The Palestinian Jordan Valley here, starting from Jericho and the northern Dead Sea up to the borders of Tubas, that is, the southern, central and northern Jordan Valley, is a wide field for the work of colonial investors and Israeli investment companies. In this region, 65,000 Palestinians live in 29 towns and population centers, including about 15,000 Palestinians living in a number of small Bedouin communities, while the current Israeli government plans to increase the number of settlers in the region during the next two years from 12,000 to 30,000 settlers through facilities. There is a wide area for investment and housing in the area at lower prices than in the rest of the West Bank.
Since the rise of the fascist right to power in Israel following the recent elections to the Knesset, there has been widespread propaganda to stimulate housing and investment in the Palestinian Jordan Valley. Everyone knows that the occupying state, through legal tricks, had increased the area of “state land” in this region to about 54% of its area, that is, four times what it was before 1967. It declared large areas of it as firing zones and closed 20% of its area as nature reserves. That is, it controlled more than 80% of its area. Theoretically, the occupying state allocated 12% of this area to settlements, settlement outposts, and pastoral farms, but in practice, the entire area has turned into a vital area for investments and settlement activities. The Palestinians in the area are trapped in small ghettos, deprived of the right to... Urban planning and construction and the right to access water to develop their agriculture, especially since the water in the Eastern Basin, which is the most important basin in the West Bank, is allocated exclusively to settlers and settlements. Settlement in the Palestinian Jordan Valley, in addition to being a robbery of Palestinian lands, is a very rewarding investment process for settlers and companies. Investment farms, where palm farms, roses, herbs, vegetables, poultry, cows, artificial lakes, and other Israeli investments extend, reaping profits estimated at about $750 million annually according to the worst and lowest estimates. As for the Palestinian side, its losses are no less than $800 million due to the strict restrictions on their gatherings and whatnot. What remains is their land and their investments.
A new settlement wave
At the level of destructive settlement activities, sponsored by the Netanyahu-Smotrich-Ben Gvir government, it seems that we are facing an unprecedented fourth wave to change the situation in the West Bank, including Jerusalem, at an increasing pace. This government is pushing plans to build thousands of settlement units in the West Bank, along with thousands more in East Jerusalem. Since its formation in December of last year, the Civil Administration under the leadership of “Smotrich” has been promoting settlement projects after the Jewish holidays through legislation in the Knesset, and has given the green light to the Planning Council in the Civil Administration and the Ministry of Housing to begin the promotion process after it has passed. Submitting and approving plans, as promotion is the final stage in the approval stages of construction plans.
In comparison between last year and the first half of this year, there has been a major boom in construction operations in West Bank settlements. After the construction bids approved in 2022 were about 4,427 housing units, the number tripled in the first half of 2023, as the Supreme Planning Council, which approves construction projects in the West Bank, met three times in 2023 and approved the construction of 12,855. housing units, in addition to publishing tenders for the construction of 1,289 units that have already been approved, which represents the largest number of housing units that have been developed in the West Bank settlements, including Jerusalem, since the Oslo Accords. This government has taken a number of steps to advance the construction process in the settlements. Among them is approval to legitimize the occupation of 15 settlement outposts and convert 10 of them into new settlements and five outposts as neighborhoods in existing settlements.
This acceleration in the intensification of construction operations in the settlements and in giving false legitimacy to many settlement outposts comes in light of the decision to establish a “settlers administration” and transfer the powers of the civil administration to Bezalel Smotrich, Minister of Settlement in the Ministry of the Army, who established this new governmental body to supervise all aspects of settlers’ life. inside the occupied territories.