Israel continues to exploit Corona outbreak to implement settlement projects

PNN/ Ramallah/

The National Bureau for defending land and resisting settlements stated in its latest weekly report , that Israeli Occupation Authorities annexation of illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank, including Jerusalem, and extension of Israel’s sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea is continued, exploiting the Coronavairus pandemic. Moreover, they intend to build 2 railways, where the Jewish communities adjacent to the Al Aqsa Mosque are linked together, and increasing and intensifying settlement construction, as well as, building new settlement units to attract more settlers come and stay there. As for the railways, the first one connects the western part of the occupied city of Jerusalem and the Moroccan Gate area with the outskirts of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and the second reaches mostly various parts and neighborhoods of Jerusalem. Besides, a number of projects that are carried out secretly there, such as, the Temple Tunnel, which extends under the neighborhoods of the old town and threatens its safety and stability, and the City of David project, which threaten the Silwan neighborhood and the Moroccan Gate.

The District Planning and Building Committee in the Occupation Municipality in Jerusalem revealed a settlement project on the Jabal Al-Mukaber’s land, south of the occupied Jerusalem, to build 410 settlement units, public facilities and a 100-room hotel, as well as linking the new settlement neighborhood with the light rail network and that public network with the railway in the country by 2024. It also decided a settlement plan in the Gilo Settlement. The plan focuses on building 1300 housing units, 100,000m2 for public buildings, 25,000m2 includes commercial areas, 20,000m  for workshops, 15,000 donums of open areas, and ​​83 dunums northeast of the settlement to build a school, and sports and cultural club. The plan also includes the establishment of 3 junctions, which constitute the entrance to the new neighborhood. In their vicinity, there will be commercial shops. The project includes the construction of ten residential buildings with a height of 10-12 floors and seven towers of 25-35 floors that constitute a substitute for the old absorption center consisting of about 290 housing units.

At the same time, Israeli occupation police continue its policy of restricting the movement of the Palestinian citizens in Jerusalem as it imposed fines against 7 participants in the weekly demonstration in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, Jerusalem, of NIS 5,000. Knowing that Palestinian citizens have been demonstrating since 2009 with activists from the Israeli left and solidarity movement against the policy of seizing homes in the neighborhood, the demonstration has continued in the last two months i.e. since the covid-19 outbreak.

In another context, a symposium that included Brian Reeves, Director of Foreign Relations in the Peace Now movement, and Lior Amihai, Executive Director of Yesh Din. Head of the Middle East Peace Foundation, Lara Friedman, who managed the symposium, said there are many questions that remained outstanding, including: Did Washington and Tel Aviv agree on the maps of annexation amid the world’s preoccupation with the war on Corona? And what is the validity of what Ronen Peretz, Director General of the Netanyahu Cabinet has said on the American-Israeli team led by the American Ambassador, and the Israeli Minister of Tourism has accomplished the agreement, maps and areas that Israel can annex? And will Israel really not allow the Palestinians to use the bypass roads used by the settlers? Did the heads of settlement councils in the West Bank participate in mapping? Did Trump’s team and administration endorse the most dangerous settlement project “E1”, whose completion will separate the northern West Bank from its south and ultimately destroy the two-state solution?

Within the context, one can see that after more than half a century of controversy over the future of the occupied Arab Palestinian territories, which the occupation government calls as the “Judea and Samaria,” and after a quarter of a century after the Oslo Agreements, and within just a year, the issue of implementing Israeli sovereignty has become a broad consensus in Israel, and one of the basic guidelines for any upcoming Israeli government, as head of the office of the Israeli Prime Minister, Ronen Peretz, reaffirmed that the demarcation of settlement borders within the framework of the “deal of the century” continues despite the spread of the Coronavirus.

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