Some Thoughts And Observations On Recent News About Israeli Settlements

There was a plethora of news and op-eds about recent Israeli approval of housing projects in and around Jerusalem. After we schooled the main stream media about their slanderous reporting on E-1, it’s time to deal with the others.

Ramat Shlomo:

Ramat Shlomo was built in the 1990’s, on a JNF forest that demarcated the outline of the Jordanian occupation of the Jerusalem hinterland. The new housing project in the neighborhood is planned on the southern slope of the hill, on a sliver of land locked between the current buildings and a major highway.

Ramat Shlomo – the planned building project outlined in red. Click for larger image

Needless to say, this expansion of some 1500 housing units is not only inside Jerusalem municipal lines, it doesn’t encroach on any field or pasture.

Furthermore, even the far left Geneva Initiative lists Ramat Shlomo as being inside Israeli territory in the event of a future land swap.

And as a prelude to the errors to come, this is the image the BBC used to portray Ramat Shlomo. That isn’t Ramat Shlomo, but Ramot, which eastern edge can be seen in the previous image. Per BBC, it’s all the same, just like Nottingham and Birmingham, both are inghams.

Giv’at Hamatos

Literally hill of the air-plane, where on June 6, 1967, an IAF plane was shot down by occupying Jordanian forces. It is located on the southern edges of Jerusalem, and is currently the site of caravan houses for Ethiopian immigrants, and has long since been on the planning board.

This is how clueless Harriet Sherwood reported it:

Givat Hamatos, across the pre-1967 Green Line between southern Jerusalem and Bethlehem, will be the first new discrete settlement created since 1997. Critics say it will become part of a chain of settlements in the area, further impeding access between the two biblical cities.

European diplomats in Jerusalem have warned that the construction of Givat Hamatos is a “game-changer” which could destroy the chance of a viable Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. A diplomatic source said the approval of the new settlement was “a devastating development for all those who believe in a two-state solution”.

Sherwood and others clearly didn’t even open a map to see where it is. If they did, they would’ve seen that: A) the access between Jerusalem and Bethlehem will not be changed, and B) that the area is in no means an empty desert (unlike E-1), and that the division between Jews and Arabs in it, are already a fact on the ground, never mind any future development.

Givat HaMatos and adjacent areas. Click for larger image

As you can see in the above map, courtesy of B’Tselem, Giv’at Hamatos is engulfed by the Arab neighborhood of Beit Safafa from the north, west and south, while on the east, there’s road 60 – the millennia old path between the cities, and Kibbutz Ramat Rachel. The 500 meter gap between Beit Safafa and Ramat Rachel, were the main road passes through, also houses the southern public transport hub of the Jerusalem metropolitan area.

So in the current state of affairs, it’s in no way a “game-changer” that threatens the viability if a future Palestinian state. But build 2600 apartments, with some 600 intended as an expansion of Beit Safafa that doesn’t change anything that doesn’t already exist, and all of a sudden you have a powder keg. The planned expansion is roughly 0.3 Km2, making it 0.004% of their intended state. It’s not about the viability of it, it’s about Jerusalem.

B’Tselem and BBC fail Geography

I saw the aforementioned failed BBC article a few days ago, but didn’t have time to write about it. What struck me more, apart for the wrong picture, was the inclusion of The Hebrew University Mount Scopus campus in the settlement blocs.

BBC map of the settlement blocs in and around Jerusalem, Mount Scopus campus in green.

The BBC simply erased the Israeli exclave that existed there during the Jordanian occupation between 1948 to 1967, and relabelled the university campus and Hadassah hospital, two renowned institutions there since the early 20th century.

Serendipity has its ways, and Jessica Montell of B’Tselem tweeted their online map:

This interactive map has the exact same layers as the BBC, including university and hospital as settlement, but does indeed demarcate the Israeli exclave on mount Scopus.

I can assume, that just like the EU clerk misused the intersection tool, so too did the group or company responsible for the BBC’s and B’Tselem’s geographic data.

Old City of Jerusalem

Another one of those “settlements” listed in the BBC’s and B’Tselem’s maps is the Jewish quarter in old Jerusalem.

Yes, that’s right, per B’Tselem and BBC, the millennia old Jewish presence in Jerusalem is but a footnote to the 19 years of Jordanian apartheid and ethnic cleansing of Jews from Jerusalem.

Update: I pointed out the Mt. Scopus error to Jessica Montell last week, and today as well, and she promised it’s being corrected. We’ll wait and see.


About Judge Dan

Dan Smith has been exposing anti-Israel fallacies since the first time he opened the world wide web on Netscape Navigator, sometime in the late 90's. His lack of formal journalistic, political and sociological education means he is still capable of objective, unbiased views and opinions. A judge of media, pundits and media pundits.

Facebook Comments

  • Jim from Iowa

    And how exactly would you describe the city of Ariel, Judge Dan? An integral part of Israel? The future capital of Samaria? An illegal settlement built on disputed land? For me Ariel is the critical test case for Netanyahu and the Israeli people of how they will finally decide what is to become of the West Bank and all of its residents, both Arab and Jew.

    • Norman B.

      That critical test may not come about for a long time. There are only two ways the West Bank Arabs can attain a state of their own, either by war or by negotiations. If they try war, Israel will crush them. So far, at least since they resorted to suicide bombers, they haven\’t been serious about negotiations. Abbas\’s running to the UN is only his latest dodge, and all the resolutions the UN can pass will not change one fact on the ground.

    • Inessa

      I think the point that Netanyahu (and many before him) makes is that the opposite of peace isn\’t building houses, it\’s violence and war. It\’s not relevant to discuss the specifics of which bits of Israel will be dismantled and given up during the negotiations for the borders, if the Palestenian Authority can not give any assurances of security from the genocidally minded members under its authority, no matter where you put the line. And these are the moderates. Add to that the fact that Hamas does not accept PA as representing the Palestenian people or state, and openly rejects any deal Abbas makes, and openly calls for \”liberation of Palestine\”, unabashedly including all of Israel in this dream.
      Would someone like Netanyahu like to keep all the areas annexed by Israel during a defensive war? Sure. But it doesn\’t mean he doesn\’t realise that that\’s not going to happen. Alternatively, is it possible, that in a negotiation of some of those areas, provision could be made for the existing Jewish population to remain, even if it became part of Palestine? (Just as many Palestenian Arabs communities remained in Israel? It\’s all conjecture, unless a few definitions are accepted in the term \”land for peace\”. And they\’re not, and they aren\’t going to be.
      Israel\’s (and any child\’s) definition goes like this – Israel gets guaranteed peace from attacks, and in return, they give up any authority over land where Palestenian Arabs live under self-governed rule already, and uproot additional communities to add to that territory.
      Netanyahu has been repeatedly open and frank in stating that \”peace\” or security, mean that \”the Right of Return\” is not going to happen. The Palestenian state needs to be demiliterised. The borders are not going to be precisely along all \’67 lines, especially some parts of Jerusalem, but that does not preclude the Palestenians from having their capital in the part of Jerusalem that\’s under their authority. Fairly clear. Abbas has repeatedly broken it down too: They will continue to demand the right of return, they will not accept a centimetre short of 67 lines, they will not disarm (not within his control anyway), and future Palestine will be Judenreit. Meshal has been clear too – they will not accept any physical presence of Israel, and Palestine will be from the river to the sea. Why is it that Netanyahu is labelled belligerent and Meshal is just \”being a politician\”? Why are settlements an obstacle to peace? Because when the Palestenians see a single bulldozer, they apparently, cannot provide the peace? How else can one understand the Palestenian leaders referring to building houses as \”a violent act\”.
      Ariel is a thriving city. It\’s a beautiful city – very airy and clean. Its residents go about their daily lives and work like anywhere else, they\’re not gun toting cowboys. Still, Netanyahu has said \”nothing is off the table\”. It doesn\’t matter though, as the definition of peace on the other side is removed from reality.

      • Jim from Iowa

        You make many excellent points, Inessa. I tend to agree that the current impasse to a negotiated settlement is significantly due to Palestinian intransigence, disunity and dysfunction as a people. You can\’t really be expected to make peace with people who don\’t believe you have a right to exist. But still Israel is in the superior position in every respect and should be expected to make every effort to help create an environment where a negotiated settlement can commence. And Netanyahu doesn\’t even stand behind in any practical sense what supposedly is long-standing Israeli policy of supporting a Palestinian state on the West Bank. The world condemns and threatens sanctions, yet Netanyahu\’s Israel seems to move further toward accomodating the loony settler community who attack members of the IDF and seek violent confrontation with their Arab neighbors at every turn. Something\’s got to give.

        • Inessa Stinerman

          Sadly, it looks like nothing is going to give, at least for a long time. If you visit Israel, you will see that Ariel is certainly not a loony settler community. Given some past events, no sacrifice would be beyond realms of possibility for Israel, even under Netaniahu (except the Kotel). Can you imagine what a country Israel would be if in addition to its achievements, it would have to spend the money and so much of people\’s lives on defence?Even the most right wing loonies would at least pause to consider. It is true that Netaniahu is not bending in response to the world condemning and threatening sanctions. But it is disgusting that Abbas completely wipes his ass with the Oslo Accords, and Israel is the one being condemned. The world hasn\’t always been particularly protective of the Jews, even when opportunities were there. At the end of the day, Netaniahu\’s responsibility is not to to the \”world\” or the US first, it\’s to the people of Israel. Just because the \”world\” would like a 2 state solution, doesn\’t mean Israel has to make decisions now which could easily turn suicidal, on the promise of literally nothing in return. \”The world\” should not be dismissive of what has already been done – the previous building freeze, no building of new settlements, withdrawal from Gaza, the Gilad Shalit swap. What gestures, even symbolic have we seen from the other side? Schools and hospitals named after terrorists; suicide bombers blowing up the very hospital in Israel, where they were treated, for free; no condemnation of any terrorist activities, not even in UN speech. If that, or just Gaza is a prelude of life would be like for Israelis with a neighbouring Palestenian state, why should Israel make every effort? The \”world\” should also take note of what Israel has already had to do just to survive. Can you imagine what it is like for every parent to have their child be taken away to 3 years of army service, instead of travelling the world, going off to college, making the stupid decisions teenagers are supposed to make? Can Obama? What about every family that has to have the dad, the brother, the son, go off for a month every year? Even the left wing of them. I don\’t think that the people of Israel can be expected to make these sacrifices with their very lives, but then be labelled Apperteid or racist, when they don\’t want to give up their cities with the likelihood of more violence and misery. The US took out Bin Laden, and would do so for the rest of their \”most wanted\”. They did not negotiate with them. Imagine if Al Qaeda was based and operating right on its border, like in Mexico. The US is in the superior position in every respect….but if push came to shove, I bet they would clean up the terrorists before creating an environment for negotiation.
          Ideally, the PA would start cleaning up the terrorism, if only they weren\’t risking being lynched by their own people.
          Then there\’s the environment itself; they call \”Naqba\” 1948. But the 1967 borders were not borders of Palestine. They were Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, and Jordan. If Palestenians want \”their land\” back, why should they only care what land Israel occupies? Shouldn\’t they also be demanding part of the Sinai from Egypt? The \”world\” condemns and threatens sanctions for making plans for future building on a sliver of uninhabited land, because that would ostensibly threaten a contiguous Palestenian state. But even Abbas has said they won\’t accept anything less than \’67 borders. Last I checked the map, the only way that proposed Palestenian state could be contiguous (including West Bank, Gaza, Golan), is if Israel wasn\’t interrupting its contiguousness. So perhaps there is something wrong with the \”world\” that condemns and threatens Israel in its 1/6 of 1% of the Middle East.

          • Inessa Stinerman

            That should have been \”if in addition to its achievements, it would NOT have to spend…..\”

        • Inessa

          Ironically, the fact that Israel is expected to make peace with people who don\’t even believe it has the right to exist, is a relatively minor problem. The major problem was summed up by Golda Meir when she said \”peace in the Middle East will only be possible when the Arabs learn to live their children more than they hate us.\” Look at the way they treated the alleged collaborators. Look at what happens to those in the West Bank who make any attempt at normalization with Israel. So, if the facts on the ground haven\’t changed since, what has changed between then and now? The difference is in the \”world\’s\” attitude. The expectation that even though Palestenians want to kill Israelis, even if they kill other Palestenians in the process, and even if they risk damaging their own holly sites in Jerusalem, Israel is the one that \”must create the environment for negotiation\”. Now, it is accepted that the Palestenians are at war, but not that Israel is at war. If the Palestenian state was established tomorrow, and this behavior continued, would the world accept Israel considering this an act of aggression from another sovereign nation and respond accordingly? Perhaps they should be careful what they ask for.

        • mrzee

          There\’s no \”long-standing Israeli policy of supporting a Palestinian state on the West Bank\”. Netanyahu is the first PM to explicitly endorse the two-state solution. Neither Olmert or Barak ever did.

          • Jim from Iowa

            OK, I should have said long-standing Israeli position of supporting a negotiated peace settlement. It\’s hard to see if Oslo had been fully implemented that we would not a have two state solution today.

        • Dafna Yee

          Those “loony settlers” as you call them are long-time RESIDENTS of their homes in Judea/Samaria. If they are “gun-toting” it is because they have to protect themselves from their rabidly anti-Jewish/anti-Israel Arab “neighbors”!! It was a peaceful, minding-his-own-business Jewish resident who was violently stabbed to death by a “Palestinian” last week, not the other way around. That is the way things are and how they have been since 1967 when Israel won back their land from the JORDANIANS, not the “palestinians”!!

          Here’s a history lesson for you (and please go ahead and verify any of these facts). The “palestinians” didn’t exist as a separate political entity until 1964 when the PLO was created for the express purpose of destroying Israel; it was
          put in their charter that way. They weren’t even recognized by the Arab countries until the Rabat Summit Conference in 1974, a year after the Yom Kippur War which was fought against a conglomeration of ARABS, not “palestinians.” (If you check any newspaper, even Arab ones, before that year you will only find news about the Arab-Israel War or the Arab-Israel Conflict; again, there is nothing about “palestinians” as a separate people. There is, of course, news of the “palestinians” as part of the PLO which has always been a terrorist organization and directly connected to the Palestine Authority as Abbas was Arafat’s hand-picked successor. BTW, Arafat was an Egyptian, not a “palestinian.”)

          Palestine was NEVER a sovereign nation. When the Roman army conquered Judea, they renamed the land “Palestine” in order to erase the memory of the Jews. After the Turks conquered all of the Middle East, Palestine became a TERRITORY in the Ottoman Empire. (There were several times in the 19th century that the census showed more Jews than Arabs lived in Palestine and this was especially true in Jerusalem.) It had no defined borders until 1906 when
          Egypt and Turkey signed the Treaty of Taba which created the border between Palestine and Egypt. Syria never had a border; in fact, it considered Palestine to be southern Syria. In 1917 England created the Balfour Declaration which promised a homeland in Palestine to the Jewish people. That promise was part of the Palestine Mandate which was ratified by the League of Nations in 1923. They also created Jordan that year out of 77% of Palestine and WHOSE BORDERS STOPPED ON THE EAST SIDE OF THE JORDAN RIVER!!

          In 1947, the Arabs were offered their own state by the UN and they refused it because the Jews were also offered their own state and the Arabs wanted all of Palestine including the tiny piece that was offered to the Jews. In 1948 Israel became a country that was recognized by a majority of countries in the UN. (My mother was at the UN that day; she said it was the most exciting day of her life!) the day after the State of Israel was declared, despite having reached out for peace with the Arabs in its Declaration, seven Arab countries declared war on Israel. Jordan was one of the seven and it had the best army which was officered and armed by the British. After fierce fighting in Jerusalem between the Israelis and Jordanians (and that is how it was reported in the news media; there is absolutely no mention of “palestinians”), the Jordanians succeeded in capturing Judea, Samaria, and part of Jerusalem which included the Old City where Jews had lived for millennia. Immediately, the Jordanians forced thousands of Jews to leave their homes in the newly conquered territory with only the clothes they were wearing and, just like the Romans and for the same reason, they CHANGED THE NAME of Judea and Samaria to the “West Bank”! The 19 years between 1948 and 1967 were the ONLY time that Jews did not live in the conquered lands, including Jerusalem. In 1967 the Israelis did not “occupy” land that belonged to the “palestinians” or anyone else. That is why it is wrong to call Jewish residents of Judea, Samaria, and especially Jerusalem “settlers” or their towns and cities “settlements.”

          If you want to consider yourself fair-minded and want to learn the truth instead of the propaganda that the Arabs have been generating for more than a century, I suggest that you take the time to check what I have written. If you don’t know where to start, I would be glad to give you references.

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