Fear that US President Donald Trump’s peace plan endangers at least 15 West Bank settlements and could lead to their destruction, is one of the driving reasons settler leaders have objected to the US initiative.
Listed below are 10 things to know about these communities and how they will be impacted by the Trump plan:
1. These settlements would likely have been endangered by any peace plan.
All 15 of the communities in question are considered to be “isolated” settlements. This means that they are located outside the route of the security barrier and are not considered to be within the settlement blocs.
Israel had in the past presumed that under any US led peace initiative it would have the ability to retain settlements located within the “blocs,” which are areas of high Jewish density in the West Bank.
In exchange for the 2005 Gaza withdrawal former prime minister Ariel Sharon secured a letter from former US President George Bush that Israel could retain Jewish areas of high population densities in the West Bank in any future peace deal.
“In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949,” Bush wrote.
Former US President Barack Obama, in contrast, did not recognize any distinction between settlements located within the blocs and out of the blocs. The response of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and right-wing politicians was to similar stop recognizing any such distinction when it came to building and authorizations.
The Trump administration has similarly not spoken of such distinctions when it comes to recognizing Israeli land rights in Judea and Samaria. Its plan offers Israeli sovereignty to all settlements, irrespective of their placement on the map. At present there are approximately 130 recognized settlements, not including the outposts.
At least 15 of those communities pose a geographic challenge because they are located in territory that according to the Trump plan, is designated to be part of a future Palestinian state.
As a result, they would be considered to be small Israeli islands of sovereignty, enclaves, encased within a possible future Palestinian state. They would be linked to sovereign Israel by only one road.
They could not grow beyond the territorial boundaries set out for them under the plan.
Talk of these enclaves has resurrected the pre-Trump era usage of the term isolated settlements.
2. Most of the settlements are in Samaria and the South Hebron Hills
Six of the settlements in question are in Samaria, in a regional under the auspices of the Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan, who is one of the leaders of the campaign against the plan. These are: Hermesh, Mevo Dotan, Elon Moreh, Itamar, Har Bracha and Yitzhar.
After that five are in the South Hebron Hills, whose regional council head Yochai Damri has also been quite outspoken in his opposition to the plan.
These are: Telem, Adora, Negohot, Beit Haggai and Otniel.
Three of the settlements — Ma’aleh Amos, Asfar and Karmei Tzur — are in Gush Etzion and Ateret in the Binyamin Region.
3. Enclave settlements are all small
All the enclave settlements have low population numbers. Out of the 15 communities, nine have a population of less than 1,000, including the smallest among them, which is Hermesh with its 228 residnets. Five of the settlements have population numbers set at anywhere between 1,000-2000. Only one settlement is larger, Har Bracha, with a population 2,620, according to Central Bureau of Statistics’ (CBS) 2018 data. It has not published any 2019 data for the individual settlements.
4. Enclave residents only 3.3% of settler population
The 14,274 people living in the 15 enclave settlements, make up only 3.3% of the overall settler population of 427,800 according to 2018 CBS data.
Many of the 15 enclave settlements have grown slowly since their creation and in some cases their growth was static or even declined. But in the last decade all the settlements have grown, in some cases faster than the overall growth rate for the settlements.
In 2008, just one year before Netanyahu entered the Prime Minister’s Office, there were 290,400 settlers, out of which the 8,778 residents of the enclave communities made up just 3%.
Since then the settlement population has grown by 47%, whereas the cumulative population of these 15 communities grew by 63%.
5. Enclave growth not uniform
Not all the growth in the settlement enclaves was uniform. In absolute numbers the least amount of growth occurred in Hermesh, which had a population of 165 in 2008 and 228 in 2018. The largest growth in real numbers was in Har Bracha, which had a population of 1,338 in 2008 and 2,620 in 2018.
On a percentage basis the fastest growing settlement was Asfar, 190%. It had a population of 287 in 2008 and 835 in 2018. The slowest growing settlement was Itamar at 29%. It had a population of 968 in 2008 and 1,238 in 2018.
6. These are not new settlements
The 15 settlements are not new. They were mostly created between 1978 and 1984, long before there was a peace process, much less any talk about settlements that were in blocs or isolated. The two oldest among them are: Mevo Dotan registered as a legal settlement in 1978 and Elon Moreh in 1979, according to data from CBS. The only one created in the aftermath of the 1993 Oslo Accords, was Negahot in 1999.
7. Proximity to the Green Line is not a significant factor
According to calculations done by Peace Now, the three furthest settlements from the Green Line are located in the Samaria Region; They include Itamar at 28 KM, Har Bracha at 23 KM and Yitzhar at 20 KM.
The four settlements closets to the pre-1967 lines are; Negahot at 2.6 KM, Hermesh at 5 KM and Adora and Telem at 5.4 KM.
8. A majority of the settlements favored Yamina
In nine of the settlements, the majority of the voters in the March election favored the Yamina Party, whose leader MK Naftali Bennett has opposed the Trump peace plan. In another four of the settlements the majority of the voters gave their support to the Likud.
In two of the settlements, Asfar. And Ma’aleh Amos, the majority of those who went to the polls cast their votes for the ultra-Orthodox party name United Torah Judaism.
9. The map only lists 15 settlements
Trump’s map only list 15 settlements slated to be placed in enclaves. Proponents and opponents of the plan have analyzed the map and concluded that at least four more settlements could also be in isolated enclaves.
10. Trump’s map is not final
A joint Israeli-Palestinian committee is working on finalizing the details of the Trump peace plan map that would allow Israel to apply sovereignty to 30% of the West Bank, including all Israeli settlements.
Objections to the map have been based on the one published in January and in many cases with details that presumed based on blowing up the small map in the map and applying to the terrain.
That map favors Israeli continuity in the Jordan Valley and Palestinian contiguity in Judea and Samaria. Settlers have argued that small adjustments could be made, minimally by expanding the sovereignty map to 32.5% of the West Bank, that would make Trump’s map palatable. The settler leaders have not published details of that map.
Original: JPost – Tovah Lazaroff