Implementation of Security Council resolution 2334 (2016) - Report of the Secretary-General (S/2022/504) [EN/AR]


I. Introduction

1. The present report is the twenty-second quarterly report on the implementation of Security Council resolution 2334 (2016), covering the period from 19 March to 16 June 2022.

II. Settlement activities

2. In its resolution 2334 (2016), the Security Council reaffirmed that the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, had no legal validity and constituted a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace. The Council reiterated its demand that Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and that it fully respect all of its legal obligations in that regard. No such steps were taken during the reporting period, as settlement activities continued.

3. On 27 March, members of an Israeli settler organization, accompanied by Israeli police, took over the first floor of a historic building in the Old City in occupied East Jerusalem. The settlers’ actions occurred amid legal proceedings over ownership of the property between the settler organization and the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem. In a statement issued on 29 March, the Patriarchate called the move a “threat to the continued existence of a Christian quarter in Jerusalem”. On 8 June, the Supreme Court of Israel rejected an appeal filed by the Patriarchate against the ruling of a lower court, which had found that the building and two other properties had been sold legally by the Patriarchate to the settler organization.

4. On 21 March, Israeli security forces evacuated 20 structures in the outposts of Maoz Esther and Habaladim, in the central part of the West Bank. During the evacuation, the settlers who were occupying the structures injured two Israeli police officers and damaged Palestinian vehicles with stones and punctured their tyres. Six settlers were arrested but released the same day. It has been reported that the outpost was later rebuilt.

5. On 12 April, the Israeli authorities proceeded with plans to declare “a nature reserve” on approximately 5,500 acres of land south of Jericho, of which some 1,500 acres are private Palestinian-owned property. Objections to the order declaring the reserve can be filed within 60 days of its issuance. The so-called Nachal Og Nature Reserve is the largest reserve to be declared in 25 years. To date, Israel has declared about 48 nature reserves in the occupied West Bank with a total area of at least 95,000 acres, comprising some 12 per cent of Area C and about 7 per cent of the entire occupied West Bank.

6. On 19 April, thousands of Israeli activists, accompanied by right-wing members of the Knesset, marched to an outpost located at the site of the evacuated Homesh settlement and demanded that the settlement be re-established. Before the march, Israeli security forces temporarily closed the main road and blocked the entrances to several villages, prompting clashes with Palestinians. Israeli security forces injured at least 14 Palestinians with rubber-coated metal bullets during those clashes. On 29 May, the Government of Israel stated that the outpost at Homesh must be evacuated, without specifying a time frame. The Government made that statement as part of its response to a petition lodged with the High Court of Justice by Palestinian landowners and an Israeli non-governmental organization (NGO), who argued that the Government was not fulfilling its legal obligations to evacuate the outpost at the site and permit Palestinians to have access to their lands.

7. On 28 April, the Supreme Court of Israel rejected a petition challenging the construction of 31 settlement housing units in an apartment complex in the heart of the H2 area of Hebron. If built, those units would be the first new settlement construction in the city in nearly two decades, further consolidating the Israeli presence in and reinforcing the existing separation and division of that highly volatile area, where some 500 Israeli settlers live among some 40,000 Palestinians.

8. On 13 May, dozens of settlers took over an uninhabited Palestinian-owned house in Hebron without a permit, claiming that they had purchased the house from its Palestinian owner. The owner subsequently filed a complaint with the police. On 15 May, the settlers were evacuated from the building pending the settlement of the claim. Israeli security forces control access to the property. At the time of reporting, right-wing Israeli activists had set up a makeshift office in front of the building.

9. On 12 May, Israeli authorities advanced some 20 plans for the construction of more than 4,000 housing units in Area C settlements. Some of the plans cover settlements that are located in particularly sensitive areas, including Qiryat Arba‘ next to Hebron (156 units), Shilo near Nablus (534 units), Dolev near Ramallah (472 units) and Beitar Illit at the southern borders of Jerusalem (800). Two of the plans would retroactively legalize the Mitzpe Dani and Booster outposts as new neighbourhoods of existing settlements; in another plan, the structures covered are for recreational rather than residential purposes and were also retroactively legalized. This is the largest number of settlement units advanced in Area C since October 2020; approximately one third of those would be built in outlying locations that are deep inside the occupied West Bank, further impeding the contiguity of a future Palestinian State.

10. On 15 May, the Supreme Court of Israel rejected four petitions filed by Palestinian residents, Israeli NGOs and academics against a controversial plan to construct a cable car between West Jerusalem and occupied East Jerusalem, including the Old City. Palestinian residents of occupied East Jerusalem, Israeli NGOs and some in the international community have serious concerns that the aim of the plan is to deepen Israeli control over the area and that its implementation could lead to the demolition of Palestinian houses and further evictions in Silwan.

11. During the reporting period, demolitions and seizures of Palestinian-owned structures continued across the occupied West Bank, including in East Jerusalem. Israeli authorities, citing the lack of Israeli-issued building permits, which remain almost impossible for Palestinians to obtain, demolished, seized or forced people to demolish 133 structures. The demolition of those structures resulted in the displacement of 188 persons, including 94 children, and affected 887 other persons.

12. A total of 6 per cent of the structures were demolished or seized with no or very short prior notice based on military order 1797, which authorizes an expedited process for the demolition of unauthorized “new structures” in Area C and gives owners 96 hours to demonstrate possession of a valid building permit. Another 11 structures were demolished by their owners following receipt of demolition orders. Of the structures that were demolished or seized, some 24 were funded by donors.

13. On 30 March, the Supreme Court of Israel decided to postpone by some six months handing down a ruling on the potential demolition of 38 homes in the Palestinian village of Walajah in occupied East Jerusalem, citing progress in discussions between the Palestinian residents and Israeli authorities on advancing a building and zoning plan for the village. The demolition fr eeze does not apply to 13 other homes in Walajah, one of which was demolished on 31 May. The other 12 homes remain under threat of demolition.

14. On 25 April, the Jerusalem Magistrate Court accepted the appeal of a Palestinian family concerning the family’s pending eviction from its home in the occupied East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Shaykh Jarrah. The Court ordered that the case be reconsidered by Israeli authorities while an eviction freeze remains in place.

15. On 4 May, the High Court of Justice of Israel rejected petitions seeking to overturn eviction orders issued to 1,200 Palestinian residents, including more 500 children from 12 herding communities in Masafer Yatta, in the southern occupied West Bank. The Court, in its ruling, stated that permanent structures in the area located on some 7,400 acres of privately owned Palestinian land did not exist when it was declared a “firing zone” by the Israeli military in the 1980s. The Palestinian residents disputed that claim, arguing that they had been living there before the establishment of Israel. There are nine settlement outposts located in and near the firing zone. The decision allows the Israeli authorities to enforce the eviction orders.

16. On 7 May, Israeli forces demolished, as a punitive measure, parts of a residential structure in Silat al-Harithiyah, Janin, that served as the home of a Palestinian accused of involvement in the killing of an Israeli civilian on 16 December near the evacuated settlement outpost of Homesh, near Nablus. The demolition displaced two family members of the accused Palestinian.

17. On 1 June, Israeli security forces demolished nine Palestinian structures, of which six were residential tents, in Masafer Yatta for lack of Israeli building permits. Some 38 Palestinians were displaced as a result of the demolitions.

18. Also on 1 June, Israeli security forces demolished, as a punitive measure, a residential structure in the village of Ya‘bad, near Janin. The structure was the home of the suspected perpetrator of the Bnei Brak shooting in March, in which five Israelis were killed.