[Thursday, May 22, 2014] Israeli Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz said he intends to submit a draft law expanding the boundaries of occupied Jerusalem, to include the settlement blocs of Maaleh Adumim and the Gush Etzion.The Likud Party official said his plan aims at what he called “preserving the Jewish identity” of occupied Jerusalem.
He said that, as Israel will be marking “Jerusalem Day”, (47 years since it illegally annexed occupied Jerusalem), it will also be promoting a plan that would expand the borders of Jerusalem, and strengthen its “Jewish identity”.
Katz will also support declaring what he called “The Greater Jerusalem”, after declaring settlement blocs and settlements, including those far from Jerusalem, as part of the “Greater capital of Israel”, the Israel Today News Website said.
It added that Maaleh Aumim settlement block, Gush Etzion settlement block, Betar Illit and Givat Zeev settlements will be part of the jurisdiction of Jerusalem.
He said this plan aims at creating a centralized council that protects the independence of each settlement, but Jerusalem will be a metropolis, similar to “Greater Paris”, and “Greater London”.
His plan comes amidst deadlocked Palestinian-Israeli political talks, and amidst a serious increase in draft laws that target occupied Jerusalem, in addition to laws calling for annexing Area C in the occupied West Bank to become part of the state.
Meanwhile, Israeli Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel said he expects the settler popular, in the occupied West Bank and occupied Jerusalem, to witness a %50 increase in population by the year 2019.
The plan is another Israeli blow to political talks, that have repeatedly failed due to Israel’s ongoing violations, settlement activities, and aims at a further isolation of the Palestinians living in occupied East Jerusalem, and various areas of the West Bank.
* Area C of the occupied West Bank is around %74 of the entire occupied territories, and falls under complete Israeli military occupation, security control, and is largely used for the illegal construction and expansion of Jewish-only settlements, in direct violation of International Law.
Under the Wye River Agreement, Israel was supposed to withdraw from an additional %13 of the occupied West Bank, which could have effectively reduced Area C to around %61, but Israel’s governments continued to violate agreements signed with the Palestinian Authority.
While the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank and Israel are supposed to be holding talks on Israel’s full withdrawal from all of the occupied territories, including occupied East Jerusalem, and while talks were “progressing’ in the 1990’s and various agreements were signed”, Israel launched one of the most massive waves of illegal construction and expansion of Jewish settlements through illegal annexation of Palestinian lands and private property.
Around 99% of Area C are under heavy restrictions by Israel, off-limited to the Palestinians, as Israel’s settlements occupy around 68%, 21% are closed Israeli military zones, and around 9% is allocated for “natural reserves”.
It is virtually impossible for the Palestinians in Area C to obtain construction permits from the Israeli Authorities, while construction and expansion of Jewish settlements have been encouraged and supported by Israel’s different governments.
The illegal Israeli Annexation Wall came to further isolate the occupied territories, preventing hundreds of thousands of villagers and farmers from entering their own land, isolated behind the Wall, while many Palestinian communities have been totally encircled, and isolated, by the Wall.