The Israeli government on Friday published tenders to build 430 new settler homes in the occupied West Bank, the head of an NGO that monitors settlement activity told AFP.Seidemann is lying, and lying big time.
"It's the opening of the settlement floodgates," said Daniel Seidemann, head of the Terrestrial Jerusalem group, adding that the announcements were the first since October 2014 and unlikely to be the last before the March 17 general election.
He said that the new homes were to be built in four existing settlements across the West Bank -- 112 in Adam, 156 in Elkana, 78 in Alfei Menashe and 84 in Kiryat Arba.
Seidemann, whose group particularly monitors settlement in Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem, predicted that building plans there were likely to be announced soon.
"I don't think it's over," he said. "I would be very concerned."
He linked the new tenders to the election in which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud is competing with other right-wing parties for the settler vote.
"This could hardly be an accident," he said. "It could not have taken place without Netanyahu's knowledge and consent."
He is an expert in the procedures involved in building homes across the Green Line. He knows that there are multiple stages towards actually building a home - as many as eight different steps. Except for the initial plans, each stage is part of a bureaucratic process that does not involve high-level decision making. This is how governments work, and Seidemann knows this.
But Seidemann gets his funding based on publicity. And the real boring facts about how the same home can be "approved" or "promoted" many times aren't as likely to produce the hundreds of thousands of dollars that Terrestrial Jerusalem gets from the EU. So he has to make each stage sound much more dramatic than it is.
And in this case, here is what he knows and didn't bother to tell AFP:
The Housing Ministry told Israel Radio that the tenders in question had been issued in the past, and were renewed automatically since construction did not take place after its initial approval.No high-level decision by Netanyahu to get votes. In fact, no decision whatsoever - it was all automatic.
One thing you have to give credit to the anti-settlement NGOs: They are very good at recycling. The huge outrage that occurred before over these exact same nonexistent structures are being be recycled over and over. Very green.
The whole drama a great scam for Seidemann and other groups to get more money from their donors, who don't bother to research the chasm between the tens of thousands of housing units that T-J and Peace Now breathlessly announce every few months and the few hundred that actually get built.
Of course, Seidemann and the other NGOs aren't the only ones to profit off of this highly choreographed charade.
Meanwhile, a senior Palestinian official said the measure constituted a “war crime.”If we could harvest the Middle East's dramatized outrage as an energy source, the oil wells would dry up tomorrow.
“What the Israelis announced is part of a wider war… against the Palestinian people,” Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) official Wassel Abu Yusef told AFP.
“This is a war crime which should push the settlements issue to the International Criminal Court.”