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Israel Plans to Build Up West Bank Corridor on Contested Land

World  (tags: world, violence, war, terrorism, politics, israel, middle-east, palestine, government, freedoms, humanrights, ethics, death, crime, corruption, conflict )

- 3517 days ago -
Israel has invested close to NIS 200 million during the past two years in preparing infrastructure for construction of housing units to create a contiguous block between Ma'aleh Adumim and East Jerusalem.


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Pete m (67)
Sunday February 1, 2009, 5:00 am
Israel has invested close to NIS 200 million during the past two years in preparing infrastructure for construction of housing units to create a contiguous block between Ma'aleh Adumim and East Jerusalem.

The neighborhood of Mevaseret Adumim, slated to be built on Area A1, has so far not been built because of strong American opposition. However the construction of a police base in May 2008 opened a window for massive construction in the area.

It is doubtful all this construction was meant to serve several hundred policemen and civilians traveling to the headquarters daily. The building of the police station, which was done with all required permits, appears to have been a necessary stage in the "claiming" of A1 ahead of constructing residential neighborhoods there.

"Ma'aleh Adumim is an inalienable part of Jerusalem and the State of Israel in any permanent settlement," read a statement from the office of Defense Minister Ehud Barak. "A1 is a corridor that connects Ma'aleh Adumim to Mount Scopus and therefore it is important for it to remain part of the country. This is the position of Labor since Yitzhak Rabin and also of the government of Barak in 1999, and the Americans know this position."

Point of contention

The recent visit to Israel of George Mitchell, the former Senator returning for another turn as special U.S. envoy to the Middle East, was described in Israel as having been 'not too bad.'

Mitchell, whom news reports described as wary of Israel and perhaps even hostile toward it, opted not to begin his new mission with a direct confrontation with his hosts. But the Israeli leadership understands clearly that it will be difficult to benefit from such leniency with the Obama administration for very long after the elections. Some of the potential points of tension between Israel and the United States were put in place during the tenure of the Kadima-Labor government.

The most blatant example is Area A1, 12,000 dunam north of Route 1, between Jerusalem and Ma'aleh Adumim. The Ma'aleh Adumim Municipality is planning to build 3,500 housing units there which, in an official statement, will constitute "contiguous construction between our city to the capital Jerusalem and will be the Zionist response that will prevent the division of Jerusalem and the dislocation of Ma'aleh Adumim and Gush Adumim from the capital of Israel."

The other side of the coin, of course, is that this sort of contiguity will prevent Palestinian construction between East Jerusalem to Ramallah, and will make it difficult to reach agreement between Israel and the Palestinians on the question of permanent borders. This is why the U.S. has strongly opposed this sort of Israeli construction for more than a decade. Israeli governments have avoided construction in this area, mostly because of U.S. pressure.

A1 was included into the territory of Ma'aleh Adumim as early as 1994 and in May 1999, during the transition period between the government of Netanyahu to that of Barak, the Supreme Planning Committee approved the construction plan, however it has been unable to implement it because more permits are required, including from the Defense Minister.

A tour of Area A1 with Col. (res.) Shaul Arieli, a member of the Peace and Security Council, revealed that in the past two years there has been enormous infrastructure construction in the area. Last May, the Judea and Samaria Police headquarters was built atop a hill, where it had moved from the neighborhood of Ras al-Amud. Even though it is a relatively small complex inside a huge area, a very large system of roads has already been completed, including an overpass, highways (some three lanes wide), traffic circles, lighting, observation posts, fences and a dividing barrier on the highway. The cost of this construction is estimated at NIS 100 million.

In addition, a road was built from the village of Hizma al-Za'im east of Jerusalem that is meant to allow Palestinian traffic from Jerusalem to Ramallah, bypassing A1. The contractor who built the road, which has not yet been opened to traffic, said on a Channel 10 interview two months ago that approximately NIS 120 million had been invested.

Arieli said that this was an example of the way Israel has been negotiating with the Palestinians. He argues that on the one hand the negotiations, including the ones under Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, had made clear the areas of agreement between the two sides on a final settlement. The agreement is that it may include Ma'aleh Adumim but not its satellite areas, and certainly not any construction in Area A1.

On the other hand, "they are pouring enormous funds in the area to the point that it creates a reality that contradicts reaching an agreement," he said. "Either the government is consciously wasting public funds, or it is consciously undermining the chances for a permanent settlement."

"Ma'aleh Adumim will remain part of the State of Israel in any future peace agreement," a spokesman from the office of Kadima chair Livni said. "Any relevant issue will be discussed as part of the negotiations."

Simon Wood (207)
Monday February 2, 2009, 8:33 am
When Israel stops its military terrorism, war crimes and other oppression against the people of Palestine (e.g. ends its occupation of Palestine's West Bank, and ends its blockade of Gaza), and when Israel and the USA agree to the 2-state solution (which Hamas and the rest of the world agree with), including the right for the millions of Palestinian refugees to return, then there will be a lasting peace.

When the USA stops supporting Israel (e.g. ends the annual $3 billion military aid to Israel), then Israel will be forced to end its aggressive, expansionist and genocidal policies.

Jessie Cross (295)
Monday February 2, 2009, 1:08 pm
Just a note to say I find it so - actually don't know what - ironic maybe??? right next to your noted news is an advertisement for holidays in Israel.

Simon Wood (207)
Tuesday February 3, 2009, 2:12 am
Heheh! Computer advertising programs do word searching - but they are not sophisticated enough to detect that kind of inappropriate advertising.

Bob E (113)
Tuesday February 3, 2009, 4:26 am
Why do we support Israeli racism? We are not a country that aspires to justice and freedom as long as we support Israel to continue to occupy, to build and to destroy...

Pete m (67)
Tuesday February 3, 2009, 3:50 pm
I didn't see the ad, Just ads for flights (not to Israel tho!) ,animal welfare and printer cartridges, which funnily enough i do need at the mo!

Relevant articles;

Court case reveals how settlers illegally grab West Bank lands 17/03/2008

West Bank settlements have expanded their jurisdictions by taking control of private Palestinian land and allocating it to settlers. The land takeover - which the Civil Administration calls "theft" - has occured in an orderly manner, without any official authorization.

The method of taking over land is being publicized for the first time, based on testimony from a hearing on an appeal filed by a Kedumim resident, Michael Lesence, against a Civil Administration order to vacate 35 dunams (almost 9 acres) near the Mitzpe Yishai neighborhood of the settlement. Official records show the land as belonging to Palestinians from Kafr Qaddum.

Lesence's lawyer, Doron Nir Zvi, admitted at the hearing that the land in question was private Palestinian property. However, Lesence claims ownership on the grounds that he has been working the land for more than a decade, after he received it in an orderly procedure, complete with a signed agreement, from the heads of the Kedumim local council.

Affidavits from Civil Administration officials stated that Lesence began cultivating the land only in the past six months.

Attorneys Michael Sfard and Shlomi Zecharia, who represent the Palestinian landowners on behalf of Yesh Din - Volunteers for Human Rights, insist their clients continued to work the land, and that the army and settlers from Kedumim are denying their access to it.

Kedumim residents who testified before the board said that the Palestinian have no problem reaching their lands. However, a visit to the area reveals a different picture: The guard at Mitzpe Yishai announced that "it is forbidden to allow Arabs in" to the lands abutting the neighborhood. After the Palestinians approached their property on foot, an army patrol arrived and moved them off. When the commander was told they have Civil Administration documents proving they own the land, the commander replied: "Documents don't interest me."

The land-takeover method was developed in Kedumim and neighboring settlements during the mid-1990s, after the Oslo Accords, and continues to this day.

Zeev Mushinsky, the "land coordinator" at the Kedumim local council, testified as to how it works: Council employees, Mushinsky in this case, would map the "abandoned lands" around the settlements, even if they were outside the council's jurisdiction, with the aim of taking them over. The council would "allocate" the lands to settlers, who would sign an official form stating that they have no ownership claim on the m, and that the council is entitled to evict them whenever it sees fit, in return for compensating them solely for their investment in cultivating the land.

Kedumim's former security chief, Michael Bar-Neder, testified that the land "allocation" was followed by an effort to expand the settlement. Bar-Neder said that once the settlers seized the lands, an application would be made to the military commander to declare them state-owned, since under the law covering the West Bank, anyone who does not cultivate his land for three years forfeits ownership of it.

25% of illegal W. Bank Jewish housing is on Arab-owned land

At least 25 percent of the structures built by Israelis in the West Bank's Area C (full Israeli control) were built on private Arab-owned land, an internal report by the Civil Administration has found.

According to the report, only 0.5 percent of the illegal structures were constructed on land registered to Jewish owners.

The data also indicate that Israel is practicing a discriminatory policy: It is more lenient on illegal construction by Jews than by Palestinians.

Although the Jewish population in the area is four times bigger than the Arab population, the authorities have demolished triple the number of Palestinian structures compared to Jewish structures.

The data, published here for the first time, appear in a comprehensive report prepared by the Civil Administration, a government body entrusted with administering all nonmilitary issues in the territories.

The report, compiled late last year, determines that approximately one-third (900 structures) of illegal buildings in the territories were constructed within existing settlements.

The veteran settlement of Ofra, for example, has 179 illegal buildings out of 600 homes. Most of these illegal structures were built on privately-owned Palestinian lands registered to West Bank residents.

The administration has located 2,764 illegal structures, of which more than 650 were built on private-owned Palestinian lands. Another 900 were built on territory whose legal status has not yet been determined.

Some 1,200 were built on land owned by the state. Only 15 were built on land registered to Jewish owners.

The Civil Administration is responsible for locating illegal construction, issuing demolition orders and carrying them out. It has 270,000 settlers under its jurisdiction, as well as 70,000 Palestinians.

The data reveal that from 1997 to 2006, the administration located twice as many illegal Palestinian structures - approximately 6,000 - as Jewish ones. Of these, approximately 2,000 buildings were demolished - 1,500 by the administration, and the rest by the Palestinians themselves at the administration's orders.

The number of Jewish structures demolished by the administration totaled 150, with another 500 demolished by the settlers themselves.

Dror Etkes, who coordinates the Peace Now movement's Settlement Watch project, reacted to the data by accusing the government of "criminally employing its agencies in order to minimize the number of Palestinians residing in Area C and push the Palestinian population into enclaves so as to allow Israel to maintain its control over most of the West Bank."

The Civil Administration's spokesman, Zidki Maman, responded that "the number of structures that have been demolished reflect the number of structures that have been located."

The Civil Administration was formed in 1981 "to manage the local population's civil affairs for its welfare." It was set up to free the army from attending to the needs of Palestinian residents of the territories, though its actions are subject to the approval of the Israel Defense Forces.

Essentially, it is supposed to play the role of the Interior Ministry in the territories, and among other tasks, it is responsible for issuing entry permits into Israel.

However, civil rights activists have long argued that the administration was more concerned with promoting the government's interests than with the welfare of the population under its jurisdiction.

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