Israeli newspaper Yodout Ahranot revealed Friday information about a plan to expand settlements in the Joirdan Valley area. The plan will be submitted to the government for approval next week.

According to Yedioth Ahronot, implementing this plan, through which 50 housing units will be built a year, would cost some NIS 60 M in the year 2005, and it will rise up to NIS 145 M next year, part of which the Ministry of Finance will pay.

Minister of Agriculture, Yisral Katz, who stands behind this plan, said this is a response to the Palestinian demands.

‘There will be a plan to develop the Judea and Samaria (Israeli reference to the West bank) after the Abbas-Sharon summit.  This is the only way to respond to those who harbor terror.  This is to make Abu Mazin (nick name for Abbas) and the Palestinian terrorist groups look through the Muqata (The PA headquarters in Ramallah) to see the Jordan Valley nourished and prosperous.’

Yedioth added that Katz, who is one of the strong opponents of the disengagement plan and the pullout from Gaza Strip, had coordinated the plan with the director of the Israeli Prime Minister’s office, Ilan Cohen and it was approved by Cobi Haber, budgets officer in the Ministry of Finance. The plan is submitted to the PM Ariel Sharon for approval lately.

Should this plan be approved, it will completely separate the West Bank from Jordan.  Together with the wall it will shrink the West Bank into half.

The paper quoted Katz as saying, ‘There must be consensus over the Jordan Valley issue.  The Palestinians must realize the they will not get a any inch from this land, we will expand the settlements in the area as we did in the Golan Heights, where we added 900 settlers families in the past year.’