by Madeeha Araj/ NBPRS/PNN
The National Bureau for Defending Land and Resisting Settlements said, in its weekly report, that, according to data published by the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has established, during the past decade, 7 new settlements in the occupied West Bank, including six “settlement towns” and one settlement bloc named “Modi’in,” in addition to a “settlement town” in occupied Jerusalem, all of this on top of the expansion of existing illegal settlements and outposts.
Within the same context, a recent report issued by Israeli rights group B’Tselem stated that the Israeli Supreme Court is now legitimizing Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in contravention of international law. According to B’Tselem, Israel has established 2 judicial systems, i.e. a civilian system for the settlers, and a military one for the Palestinians. The report confirmed that the “supreme” administration adopts the structural schemes of the British Mandate, from 80 years ago, which does not suit the current situation.
The Kerem Nebot organization stated that the Settlement Department granted housing loans, from public funds, for illegal construction, as is the case in the illegal settlement of Eli. Documents of the Israeli Land Registrar showed that, in 2010, the Histadrut branch of the Settlement Department granted a loan to a settler and his wife, although it is not allowed to give loans for illegal houses. To be sure, this is not the first time that the department has given such a loan for the purpose of building illegal settlements and outposts.
It is known that, since the 1990s, the Settlement Department has helped to establish many settlement outposts throughout the occupied West Bank, including the Sakari farm, the Itamar farm, Giv’at Awalam and Amona, among others, and granted housing loans to settlers, from the public funds, as also is the case for the Itamar settlement, south of the city of Nablus. There is an additional plan to raise the number of settlers in the occupied West Bank to 2 million, and to build large settlements in all areas of the West Bank.
Knesset speaker Adelstein, besides a number of ministers and members of the Knesset, signed a pledge that includes the housing of 2 million settlers, in the West Bank, a promise to work on “liberating” land in the West Bank, and to cancel the declaration of 2-state solution ahead of elections to be held next April 9th, 2019, in order to gain the votes of Israeli settlers. Within this context, Minister of Tourism Yariv Levin affirmed that the government’s goal is to accelerate settlement construction in the in the West Bank, in order to absorb one million Jewish settlers in the near future.
On the other hand, the so-called “Central Area Commander” of the Israeli army, General Fadan, toured the settlement council of “Beit El,” in the West Bank, and, during the visit, surveyed the most important threats and security challenges facing the settlers, there, and the requirements needed to provide them with security. The so-called “Planning and Building Committee” of the municipality of occupied Jerusalem approved a plan to build 13 new settlement units west of Sheikh Jarrah, thus green-lighting the seizure of more than 1,000 dunams of agricultural land, including olive trees and Palestinian homes in Khallet Abed, to the southeast of Jerusalem.
In the Nablus governorate, the archaeological site of Khirbat al-Qasr, located to the south of Jalod village, in the south of Nablus, has been attacked repeatedly by settlers, which led to the alteration of archaeological features in basin 18 of the village. Photos showed settlers uprooting dozens of olive, fig and almond trees planted in Khirbet-Qasr 100 years ago, and razing areas to celebrate, there. The “Khirbet-Qasr” is surrounded by three settlement outposts which include a number of caves and ancient water wells. The Khirbet-Qasr area is about 50 dunams in total area, in addition to hundreds of agricultural lands which surround it, and belongs to Ahmad Mah’d Salman Abbad. The occupation has prevented citizens from reaching this area since 2001, under the pretext that it is closed to the outposts.
In the Salfit Governorate, a plan was uncovered to bulldoze hundreds of dunams of agricultural land, in the villages and towns, in order to expand settlements. The municipality of Kafel Hares received a plan to construct a sewage line that would pass through land belonging to a number of citizens north of Salfit, and to include the destruction of some 22 dunams of Palestinian land planted with olive trees.
(edited for the IMEMC by c h r i s @ i m e m c . o r g)