By Madeeha Araj/ National Bureau for the Defense of Land and Resisting Settlements (NBPRS)/PNN

In the West Bank, settlement and terrorist activities continue against Palestinians and their property by “Pay the Price” groups, the most recent of which are the attacks on the towns of Ramon, Burin, Barqa and Beit Iksa, as well as the destruction of hundreds of olive trees and the writing of racist slogans, including: “Either Killing or Expulsion, Death to the Arabs,” whereas occupation authorities provide settlers with full political, legal and security protection.

For their part, Hebrew sources wrote  about this escalation of terrorism against Palestinian civilians, including reports disclosed during a hearing held in the Israeli occupation court, in Jerusalem, to discuss crimes committed by the gang in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, in December of 2007, where the perpetrator was a security dealer, and Israeli authorities did nothing to prevent the crime.

In Beit Iksa village, the “Pay the Price” gang also wrote anti-Arab slogans on a number of walls of houses, calling for expulsion and killing. They damaged the tires of 20 vehicles, and called for extensive invasion of the Al-Aqsa Mosque courtyards, on the occasion of the so-called “Independence of the Jewish State”, which falls on May 13 next.

Within the context of these so-called “Independence Day” celebrations, Israeli police organized an open day for visitors and settlers, during which they displayed some of the weapons they were using. Moreover, the police academy yard near Beit Shemesh was full of settlers and their children, who were being trained to use the weapons.

On the level of settlement activity, the Israeli occupation government approved a decision to establish residential housing units on the lands of Al-Khader town, southern Bethlehem governorate, in basin no. 91, of the Al-Fahm area. The decision was announced, via Hebrew press and news sites, to establish temporary settlement units for the settlers, who were evacuated from the settlement outpost of Hatavot, located on Palestinian land.

Israeli occupation authorities also began preparations for the establishment of a new settlement outpost on the lands of Sur Baher, east of Jerusalem, where it will be dedicated to retired officers of the occupation army. The land is located next to the “Palace of the Higher Commissioner.” Over the weekend, Israeli occupation forces uprooted dozens of olive trees planted by Palestinians, there, where 180 settlement units are being planned as a first step.

At the same time, the Israeli government decided to provide financial aid to encourage settlers to carry out commercial activities in occupied East Jerusalem, especially in the Old City, through the so-called “Jerusalem Development Authority”, which acts in carrying out Israeli settlement plans involving the historic Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the “Aftimos” market, Al-Sharaf neighborhood (which is called the Jewish Quarter), the New Gate in the Old City and the Rabe’a Adaweiah area, at the Mount of Olives. It was said that settlers will receive grants ranging from NIS 80,000 to NIS 350,000, under the pretext of development and establishment of shops and markets in the Old City.

Furthemore, the occupation municipality in Jerusalem has allocated about NIS 6,000,000,000 to link the US embassy building with a secondary street of emergency, as it is expected to be shifted to Jerusalem mid-next month. The Municipal Finance Committee has transferred NIS 5.8 million, to start paving the embassy’s street, which will extend from the Arnona neighborhood towards the Diplomatic Hotel.

In a dangerous development, the US administration has confirmed its continued bias towards the occupation when it stopped using the term “occupied territories”, with regard to the West Bank and Gaza, and annulled the differences between East and West Jerusalem in its annual report on human rights violations.

On the level of the stances taken on settlements by Zionist parties, and its status in any political settlement, the Labor Party conference approved the statement of the party leader and the head of the “Zionist Camp”, Avi Gabai, regarding the two-state solution. It is clear, from the statement, that the party leader calls for control over the largest area of ​​land, including occupied Jerusalem and settlements, and to control as much as possible of the land, besides full security control over it.

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

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