Once Again Palestinian Lands Come Under Israeli Settlement

Several buildings and Palestinian housing units will be demolished

The plan no. 764936, prepared by the Ministry of Housing, is set to create 9,000 housing units near Atarot Airport for ultra-orthodox Israelis (between the Palestinian neighborhoods of Kafr ‘Aqab, Qalandiya, and ar-Ram south of Ramallah).

Israel’s Peace Now organization has stated that it will be established at the heart of the urban Palestinian territory between Ramallah and East Jerusalem, preventing “the possibility of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.”

We will not know if the plan will go ahead until the begging of December when the Jerusalem District Planning Committee will discuss its final approval. The construction permits will be emitted once the deposit is validated and public objections within60 days are responded to.

The settlement will represent the first new settlement in East Jerusalem since former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government built the Har Homa settlement in 1997, which could destroy the two-state solution and Palestinian hopes for an independent state.

This new Israeli enclave “would prevent Palestinian development of the most central and important metropolis in the future Palestinian state, the Jerusalem Ramallah- Bethlehem metropolis”, according to Israel’s Peace Now organization. The colony will be built on “state lands” that enable Israel to build without needing to confiscate land from Palestinian owners. They are good to go just by evicting Palestinians and demolishing their homes.

The Atarot settlement plan dates to 2007 and it was pursued by the Israeli government in 2012 but shelved under pressure from the Obama administration, as the Foundation for Middle East Peace explains. In January 2021 former Prime Minister Netanyahu considered advancing the plan as an incentive for parties to join his coalition to remain in power.

West Bank control

What is known as the Area C of the West Bank, (60% of the occupied territory) is controlled by Israeli forces and used “by Israel’s Civil Administration for the expansion of current Israeli settlements, illegal under international law, and the establishment of new outposts by hard-line settlers”, Al Jazeera reports.

Similarly, to the Atarot settlement, there is the E1 plan. This plan is already creating an Israeli area extending from Jerusalem to the Maale Adumim settlement (11km beyond the Green Line). According to the Israeli rights group IrAmim, it is “blocking the eastern connection of East Jerusalem to the West Bank and Ramallah and the north of the West Bank from Bethlehem and the south of the West Bank.”

All of these colonies are leaving the area without viable and contiguous Palestinian territory. Moreover, not related to the E1 area or the Atarot settlement, the Civil Administration has convened for final approval on the construction of some other 2,259 housing units across the West Bank. 

863 of those are going to be for the Palestinians. This is not an act of goodwill but to soften international responses to the construction, as the online media outlet, Haaretz has analyzed.

If these permits take place, they will be the first issued by Israel in years and the first of any significant size, the Foundation For Middle East Peace recalls. During these past years, only 21 building permits have been issued to Palestinians, while 2,147 demolition orders have taken place.

Israeli authorities have been implementing a policy aimed at driving out Palestinian communities by making “living conditions miserable and intolerable”, Israeli rights group B’Tselem describes. Palestinian residential and public structures are prohibited and Israeli authorities decline to hook them to the water and power grids. Desperate Palestinians, then build without permits and the Israeli Civil Administration can demolish the structures.

Once again Palestinians are seeing how their lands are being built upon and divided by Israeli settlers. With resignation, they will have to see their homes destroyed, but they will not be voiceless in front of the contingent Israeli politics that want to erase them.

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