Advancement of plans for settlement units in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, continued on a high level in the second half of 2019 (July-December). 5,627 settlement units were advanced in different stages of the planning and implementation process (only plans, no tenders). 981 of the units pertain to settlements located in occupied East Jerusalem, and 4,646 to settlements located in other parts of the West Bank, including in locations deep in the West Bank. 2019 saw the highest number of settlement units (9,666) advanced through plans in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in the last 5 years. At the same time, the total number of settlement units advanced through plans and tenders in 2019 (11,427), was lower than in both 2017 (12,354) and 2018 (12,857), but significantly higher than in 2015 (4,059) and 2016 (3,944). While plans and tenders indicate expected future construction activity, 1,528 units began actual construction in the West Bank, excluding East Jerusalem, in 2019, the lowest number since 2012 (1,213). Construction starts in East Jerusalem were also lower in 2019 (315), than in 2018 (837) and 2017 (1,143). There were other significant developments contributing to settlement expansion in the reporting period, including an approval to build a "bypass" road to the west of Bethlehem that will connect Jerusalem to the Gush Etzion settlements; the advancement of a plan for a cable car project and other settlement activities related to tourism endeavours in and around the Old City in East Jerusalem; the retroactive authorization of outposts; the eviction of a Palestinian single mother and her four children from their home in Wadi al Hilweh in East Jerusalem; as well as the continuation of settler-related violence in the West Bank. There are approximately 220,000 Israeli settlers living in East Jerusalem1 while the settler population in Area C of the West Bank is approximately 427,800.2 This brings the Israeli settler population in the West Bank to around 647,800 individuals in some 170 settlement locations and some 120 outposts.3 As stated in numerous EU Foreign Affairs Council conclusions, settlements are illegal under international law, constitute an obstacle to peace and threaten to make a two-state solution impossible.4 The EU has reiterated its strong opposition to Israel's settlement policy and actions taken in this context, such as building the separation barrier beyond the 1967 line, demolitions and confiscation - including of EU funded projects - evictions, forced transfers including of Bedouins, illegal outposts and restrictions of movement and access. The EU has also urged Israel to end all settlement activity and to dismantle the outposts, in line with prior obligations, and maintains that settlement activity in East Jerusalem seriously jeopardizes the possibility of Jerusalem serving as the future capital of both States.
Read full report here: 200629_final_six-month_settlement_report_july-dec_2019.pdf