Secrets of Israeli settlements on illegally occupied West Bank / Jerusalem will remain just that. Guidelines for an Apartheid state
Since 1967 there has been a vear and growing policy of legal and physical separation between the Jewish and Palestinian populations in territories illegally occupied since the end of the 1967 war. (Click on map of settlements to enlarge)
Seven months after the 6-day war, the first Israeli settlement, Kfar Etzion, was established in the West Bank. Only one year later, during the Passover of 1968, several families settled in the Park Hotel, Hebron.
In late 1967 the head of the Ministerial Committee for Settlements, Yigal Alon, began to plan the state’s official settlement map. Between the years 1967-1977, around 30 settlements housing approximately 5,000 settlers were established. The majority of these settlements were established on the eastern margins of the West Bank. This construction intended to satisfy the security ideology surrounding the necessity of an Israeli civilian presence in the peripheral areas.
In 1977, with the succession of a Likud government to power, with Menachem Begin as its leader, the settlement effort begun to focus on the western areas in the West Bank. Dozens of such settlements were established at the end of the 1970’s and the beginning of 1980’s. These measures constituted a direct effort to prevent a split of the country into two, under the political compromise (internationally touted fig leaf of two states for two peoples.)
Today, around 260,000 people live in 121 settlements throughout the West Bank (not including East Jerusalem).
Spiegel report : Petition for it's release
Now an obscure but important stand off in a perpetual fight to limit settlements has reached the Israeli High Court of Justice.
Special adviser to the defense minister Brigadier General Baruch Spiegel prepared a report who's existence became known in October 2006. This is essentially a database containing full details about the settlement enterprise in the territories, including outposts and neighborhoods built across the Green Line.
The report, whose preparation was kept secret, revealed that extensive building was carried out without permits on dozens of veteran settlements - not just outposts - often on privately owned Palestinian land. Spiegel's data came from the Civil Administration and other government agencies, as well as from photographic sorties carried out by civilian aircraft leased by the military establishment.
Spiegel commenced data collection as it became clear to Defense Ministry officials that the state's figures on the settlements were "incomplete" ( i.e innaccurate / dishonest).
It became clear to the military that often the state's own information was incomplete in comparison with the data presented by the U.S. administration or gathered by Peace Now's monitoring staff. The gaps resulted from the government's policy of looking the other way. In some cases, information was deliberately kept hidden in order to help the settlers expand their control over land without having to contend with judicial oversight of their activities.
The government is refusing to publish a database containing full details about the settlement enterprise in the territories, including outposts and neighborhoods built across the Green Line. In response to a High Court of Justice petition on the matter, the Defense Ministry is arguing that publication would harm state security and Israel's foreign relations.
In October 2006, Haaretz revealed the existence of the Spiegel Report - the largest database ever compiled by the state on the settlements.
After the reports existence was made known , the Movement for Freedom of Information in Israel **** and Peace Now petitioned the district administrative court in Tel Aviv, demanding that the database be released for publication in accordance with the Freedom of Information Law passed the Knesset in 1998.
At the time, military sources described the information as "explosive" from a security and foreign-policy point of view, and claimed that part of the reason for the secrecy about the database was to avoid embarrassing Israel's relations with the U.S.
Last week the Tel Aviv district prosecutor's office submitted a pre- petition response including a statement from Brigadier General Mike Herzog,
Defense Minister Ehud Barak's chief of staff Herzog and the prosecution asked the court to bar publication of the material. They claim that while they have no quarrel with the principle of freedom of information they seek to invoke Chapter 9A of the law to prevent publication "for fear of harming state security and foreign relations." Ho.Ho.Ho.
In his statement, Herzog argued that, "At the present time, public disclosure of the material could cause injury," about which "we are unable to expand upon." The attorney's office even asked the court for an in camera session, without the presence of the petitioners, during which the state would explain the basis of its claim. Judge Michal Rubinstein has not yet issued a decision on the matter.
Dubya is in town real soon now - but don't expect that to change anything.
To understand what a "freeze on settlements" means to the Israeli government - see Mitchell report and Annapolis blatherings first .... read this
Settlements in Focus : Settlements and the Annapolis Peace Process - December 2007
Produced by Hagit Ofran, Peace Now and Lara Friedman, Americans for Peace Now
***** The Movement for Freedom of Information (FOIM) was investigating secret clauses in the provision of mobile phone licences in Israel and received a letter from the Communications Ministry confirming that some licenses do have two security appendixes, one deemed "classified" by the Shin Bet and the other "not for public release."
The licenses that the state gives to cell phone companies contain a secret codicil requiring them to give the Shin Bet security service information about conversations and messages that its customers transmit on their cell phones, according to (FOIM).
However, the cellular companies - Pelephone, 2.4 Mn subscribers) Cellcom, Partner and Mirs - as well as the Communications Ministry and the Prime Minister's Office, which oversees the Shin Bet, all declined to confirm the existence of such a directive. If this addendum does exist, it would potentially impair the privacy rights of millions of cell phone customers in Israel without their knowledge.
FOIM says that ISPs are required to give the Israel Defense Forces, the Shin Bet, the Mossad, the police and the Prisons Service any information they request about Internet users in Israel. This would mean that the state, through its security agencies, can collect data on everything an individual does via the Internet, email, cellular phones or SMS, without court oversight or the knowledge of those being monitored. (Which is a massive surprise to everyone)
UPDATE 8th Jan 8.30 EST Reuters FACTBOX: Israel's West Bank settlements
Tue Jan 8, 2008 - Useful bakground in advance of Dubya soiling his shoes on Israeli lands this week.