Bethlehem /PNN/ By: Madeeha Al-A’raj
The National Bureau for defending land and resisting settlements ( nbprs ) stated in its latest weekly report, that two weeks ago, the Israeli Army Minister Benny Gantz had decided in response to US proposals regarding confidence-building measures between the Palestinians and the Israelis, to allow the Palestinians to build 800-1,000 housing units in Area C. A source close to Gantz said that he agreed to his allies from the Yamina party and the Minister of Interior, Ayelet Shaked’s requests to reconsider approving the construction of 50 housing units in the Khirbet Beit Zakaria village near Bethlehem, considering that a sensitive area and that building in it cut off ties of the settlements there.
The right-wing parties, Yamina and Tikva Hadasha, criticized Gantz following the approval of construction works in Palestinian villages and towns and decided not to publicly attack Gantz in order not to stir up tumultuous disagreements within the government before the Knesset vote on the budget.
It became clear that his announcement is no more covering up the decision to build 2,200 housing units for settlers in a large number of settlements and the so-called random outposts, as well as deceiving the international public opinion that the occupation authorities allow Palestinians to build in area C, which is directly under Israeli control, although it was clear that the announcement might end as in the past as a pre-prepared maneuver for external marketing and not for implementation, especially as the Palestinians have previous experiences in the Israeli government headed by Netanyahu announced in 2019 to allow to build 900 housing units for the Palestinians, but the Civil Administration allowed only the building of 6 housing units in 2020. Statistics issued by the Civil Administration of the occupation indicate that it granted only 21 building permits to Palestinians out of 1,485 applications submitted between 2016 – 2018, while it issued 2147 demolition orders against Palestinians.
As for the municipality of the occupation in Jerusalem, it began to establish a park on the land of Karam Al-Mufti in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood for the benefit of a nearby settlement outpost. the municipality had previously said that the park would be on an area of 25 dunams, at a cost of NIS 28 million, to be opened within two years. The park includes seating areas, playgrounds, sports facilities, including those accessible to people with disabilities, walking and cycling paths, shaded seating complexes, a café, public toilets, a sports field, a fountain, and vast areas for sports.
At the same time, Moshe Leon’s municipality announced the completion of the inauguration of the first phase of the Judaization ‘American Street’ project, which links the settlement of ‘Givat Hamatos’ south of Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives in central occupied Jerusalem, to reach south and north of Jerusalem on a parallel road alternative to the Jerusalem road. The project consists of 3 phases; the first phase has been completed, while the second phase is about to be completed soon. As for the third phase, it is subject to planning, especially as it will pass through an area crowded with Palestinian citizens near the Silwan town, south of the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Meanwhile, the Israeli occupation forces began to bulldoze large areas in the Qalqilia Governorate to implement a settlement plan aimed at expanding settlement road n 55, which links the cities of Qalqilya and Nablus. Under this plan, which was announced in 2019, the occupation authorities will seize about 166 dunums of lands from the town of Azzoun, the village of al-Nabi Elias, and the city of Qalqilya in the east of the governorate.
The former Israeli PM, Netanyahu, opened the bypass road in Nabi Elias, known as ‘55’ in early 2018 as part of a huge settlement plan that is being implemented on the land, which are roads designated for settlers only. This plan came within the framework of a major plan aimed at protecting the settlements and linking them to each other within a settlement plan that the occupation seeks to implement.