[Sunday, May 18, 2014] The Israeli “Regional Council for Planning and Construction” approved a plan that would lead to the annexation of more than 700 Dunams (172.9 Acres) as part of Israel’s illegal plan to build “National Gardens” on lands that belong to Palestinian residents of the al-Isawiyya and at-Tour towns, in occupied East Jerusalem.The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel (Adalah) and the Arab Center for Alternative Planning have reported they filed an appeal, back in April of 2013, in coordination with the Civil Coalition for Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem, against the illegitimate Israeli plan.

The appeal was filed at the Israeli Regional Construction and Planning Committee.

Suhad Bishara, a lawyer working for Adalah, stated that the lands Israel intends to illegally confiscate have been owned by the Palestinians way before Israel occupied Jerusalem in 1967, therefore, they are occupied lands, adding that International Humanitarian Laws prohibit the occupation from conducting fundamental changes to the geography and demography of the occupied territories.

Bishara added that all lands, controlled by an occupying power, could only be used for the benefit of the local indigenous population.

Enaya Jeries Banna, a city planning expert working for the Badil Center said that the Israeli plan prevents any development and expansion of the al-Isawiyya town, home to more than 15,000 Palestinians, and the at-Tour town, home to more than 26,000 Palestinians.

Banna added that the plan also prevents any geographical contiguity between various Palestinian villages and towns in the area, and is meant to link Area E1 with Israel’s settlements around occupied East Jerusalem, despite their illegal status under International Law.

The plan would also enable Israel to create structural maps linking illegitimate West Bank settlements with Maaleh Adumin and other settlements in occupied East Jerusalem.

It comes to support another plan, aiming at creating a trash dump area, and infrastructure for settlements, on 500 Dunams of Palestinian lands owned by residents of Anata and al-Isawiyya.