By: Madeeha Araj/ NBPRS/
The National Bureau for defending land and resisting settlements stated in its latest weekly report , that the Israeli Housing Ministry and the Israeli Occupation Municipality in Jerusalem have launched a large settlement scheme to construct 11,000 settlement units on the Qalandia airport lands to expand the Attarot settlement in an attempt to impose sovereignty on the occupied Jerusalem and to separate it from its Palestinian surroundings as well. It should be noted that the Qalandia airport has been closed since by the Israeli Authorities since the outbreak of the second intifada in 2000.
During the last few weeks, the Israeli Occupation Government started building 176 settlement units in the Nof Zion settlement located on the slopes of the Mount of Olives south of the occupied Jerusalem. With the completion of building those units, Nof Zion will have about 550 housing units i.e. the largest settlement in the Palestinian Neighborhoods of Jerusalem. The above mentioned land was legally disputed, but was finally taken by Israeli businessman Rami Levy, and an Australian Jewish businessman, and Skype founder, Kevin Bremster. It was said that the current construction is in its first stage, and the second stage of the project includes 2 plans to build 350 housing units, a hotel, and an air train.
For his part, the Human Rights activist Ra’ed Bashir from Jerusalem disclosed the existence of 3 projects in the Masarra neighborhood in the occupied Jerusalem, where a fundamental change in its commercial features by transferring the Square opposite the shops to a public park, and to extend the adjacent tunnel till it reaches the Hebron Gate. Thus, the municipality submitted a project number 77679-04-101 called the completion of the tunnel that seizes 44 dunums, including the opening of an underground tunnel from Hebron to Masarra to transform the open area into a transportation network station.
The legal office revealed that the occupation municipality is currently preparing a structural plan under number 0465229-101, starting from Sultan Suleiman Street up to the Masrara Neighborhood, which includes Salah al-Din, Zahra, Nablus St. Lisan George neighborhoods, and all commercial neighborhoods in the city. The project covers an area of 700 dunums and is planned to be the alternative for the traditional commercial centers in Arab Jerusalem.
It is noted that the number of settlement units that have been built during the last 10 years has risen to nearly 20,000 units according to data published by the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, where a total of 19,634 housing units have been built in the last decade, nearly half of them in isolated settlements. In terms of distribution, the survey showed that 60% of the buildings i.e. 11,628 units were built in small settlements with a population of no more than 10,000 settlers. Rest of the units were built in large settlement blocs such as “Ariel” near Salfit, about 1,718 units, and Givat Ze’ev settlement north of Jerusalem, about 1,283 units, while the settlement of Modi’in Illit about 2,310 housing units. Moreover, Netanyahu has pledged to transfer NIS 40,000,000 to settlements as a “gift” for settlers because they supported him.
On the other hand, the Israeli Occupation Authorities have imposed new restrictions on the entry of Palestinians to their agricultural lands in areas named by them as focal-point located between the Apartheid Wall and the “Green Line,” estimated at 140,000 donum of agricultural land. The Israeli Civil Administration issued permits to allow Palestinians to enter their lands. Knowing that the Israeli Authorities reject 72% of the permits in 2018, compared to 24% in 2014.
Meanwhile, the UNs’ annual celebration of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, which correspondences 29 Nov. of each year, the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres asserted that the establishment of settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, has no legality. It is a flagrant violation of international law, as stated in UN Security Council Resolution 2334, called for a halt to the construction of illegal Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and an end to the demolition of Palestinian homes and the suffering of the Palestinian people in Gaza.” As for Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, said yesterday that negotiations between the Palestinian side and Israeli side is still possible, warning that Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem constitute an obstacle to peace, contradict the international law, and threaten to make a two-state solution impossible.