In its latest report about Israeli settlements activities in the occupied West Bank, the National Bureau for Defending Land and Resisting Settlements stated that, within the Israeli plans to complete the settlement belt around Jerusalem in general, and the Al-Aqsa Mosque in particular, the Israeli High Court has approved the largest settlement projects in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of  occupied Jerusalem, using the Absentee Property Law, which stipulates that Palestinian properties before 1948 were extracted away forever, unlike Jewish property, and there is no right of return according to Israeli law.

The project paves the way for the construction of an 8-storey settlement, each of which consists of 12 stories. This is the largest displacement that the city has witnessed since 1948. Moreover, the Israeli High Court has rejected a petition filed by the residents of the Baten El-Hawa neighborhood, in Silwan town, and have allowed the Ateret Cohnim Settlement Association to grant the necessary legal cover to expel 700 Palestinians, claiming that their homes were built on land owned by Jews before the Nakba of 1948.

The Association, which is active in Judaizing occupied Jerusalem, has called for the expulsion of entire Palestinian families, assisted by the Director-General of the Israeli Ministry of Justice, in order to seize the area and the buildings erected there, under the pretext of being owned by the Jews more than 120 years ago.

In 2001, the association had the right to administer the property of the Jewish Association, which claims to have owned the land before 1948 yet was formed in September of 2015, to hand over notifications to the residents of the neighborhood. More than one judicial decision was issued by the occupation courts, claiming the right of Ateret Cohnim to own an area of land amounting to 5 dunams and 200 m2, and in which hundreds of Palestinians live. Occupation bulldozers carried out a massive demolition of 16 shops in the neighborhood of Ras Khamis, just adjacent to Shu’fat Refugee Camp, to the north of Jerusalem, in addition to the demolition of three fuel stations, which were in place since 2007, all under the pretext that they exist without a license.

At the same time, the Knesset approved a law, in the second and third readings, allowing the construction of houses and residential units in public and national parks, which means allowing the expansion of the “Ier-David” settlement, in Silwan. According to the initiators of the draft law, it is currently impossible to establish and develop residential neighborhoods in areas defined as public and national parks. The bill, which was supported by 63 Knesset Members (with 41 against), is intended to protect the population in the “national parks” and to promote the development and expansion of the population.

In the Jordan Valley, within the context of plans to Judaize the region, the Israeli government has approved the transfer of NIS 4 million for a settlement project which includes the construction of track near the village of Fasayel, in the Ras-Ayn and the Al-Makhrouq areas of the central Jordan Valley. Until the beginning of 2017, about NIS 284,000 were spent for the construction of the track, although permission to build was approved by the Ministry of the Interior.

On the other hand, a political blow has been directed to the occupation government and its expansionist settlement system, by the RBNP, to stop offering properties for rent in West Bank settlements. The company has access to information and services from a very large number of people in all parts of the world, especially young people who love to travel, making it a step of definition and awareness available to interested customers.

Human Rights Watch called on to follow the steps of RBNP and withdraw from Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. Human Rights Watch, based in the United States, issued its report, “Bed and Breakfast on Stolen Land,” co-published by Israeli NGO Kerem Navot, and called on to do so, as well. The report said that the RPNB listing included at least 139 properties in West Bank settlements between March and July. Based in the Netherlands, RPNB had listed 26 properties in those settlements as of July, according to the report.

As for the Quaker Association of Religious Friends in Britain, the organization said it would no longer invest in companies that “benefit from the occupation” in the West Bank. The Quaker Association said, in a statement, that the decision was made by the church’s secretaries, in consultation with a meeting of representatives of the association. “We have a long history of working for peace,” said Representative Paul Parker. “Just in Palestine and Israel opened our eyes to the of many injustices and violations of international law arising from the military occupation of Palestine, by the Israeli Government ,and concluded that we must withdraw from our lists housing in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, which is disputed by Palestinians and Israelis.”

In the latest report issued by Israeli human rights organization “Yesh Din”, the organization said that settler violence is a tool to control Palestinian land, under the protection of the government and the Israeli army. The report talked about 6 Palestinian villages as a model of systematic policy followed by the settlers. The villages are Burin, Hawara, Madama, Aruf, Einabus and Aseera al-Qibliya, located at the slopes south of Nablus. They are inhabited for hundreds of years, some thousands of years ago. The report noted 43 incidents documented by Yesh Din between January 2017 and March 2018, in which settlers from Yitzhar and surrounding settlement outposts, including Giv’at Roni, hurled damage upon residents of the six villages, or upon their property.

In related news, PNN further reports that the Israeli government, on Sunday, approved a map of “national priority” areas, including a number of settlements in the heart of the occupied West Bank.

The map aims to promote Israeli migration to the towns on the map, as well as to grant larger budgets for building. The National Law will increase budgets to “strengthen the Jewish character of Israel.”

The settlements referred to are: Magron, Shvut Rahal and Kerem Re’em, and are usually referred to as “isolated settlements” because they are built outside major settlement blocs in the West Bank.

Ha’aretz newspaper reported, today, that the economic and living conditions in these settlements are not within the criteria of the Israeli Ministry of Housing which proposes  that “neighborhoods away from their mother towns are not dependent on the infrastructure of the mother town”.

The item is designed to support settlements that are technically only part of larger towns, but are in fact independent towns. The three settlements referred to above are part of larger settlements, but are on their own.

The Israeli Ministry of Housing has also decided to return the settlement of Ariel to the map, after it was removed from it, in the past.

Last year, The Marker revealed that 30 percent of tax-free Israeli towns, because of their status as “national priority” areas, are settlements in the occupied West Bank.

The number of towns that have acquired the status of “national preference” amounts to 407, including more than 130 settlements which are all tax exempted. This roughly amounts to NIS 350 million.

(edited for the IMEMC by c h r i s @ i m e m c . o r g)

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