Bethlehem/PNN/ By: Madeeha Al-A’raj
The National Bureau for Defending the Land and Resisting Settlements has recently highlighted the escalating issue of settlement projects and land allocations by the Israeli Government. In its session held on May 21st, 2023, beneath the tunnels of Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Israeli Government approved several settlement projects and allocated substantial budgets to settlement associations operating in the West Bank, particularly in Jerusalem.
The aim is to accommodate hundreds of thousands of settlers in existing settlements throughout the West Bank, including Jerusalem, resulting in a total settler population of approximately 1,000,000.
The National Bureau for Defending the Land and Resisting Settlements had previously addressed settlement allocations in the occupying State's budget in its report last week. The approval of the general budget by the Knesset provided further insight into these allocations based on the government's draft budget. It was revealed that the occupation government has allocated NIS 3.5 billion for the development and construction of new roads near Palestinian populated areas, as well as hundreds of millions for settlement projects, including illegal outposts.
Furthermore, the Occupation State has allocated NIS 2 billion for the expansion of Road 60, which connects the northern and southern regions of the West Bank. Additional funds, amounting to NIS 500 million, have been allocated to widen a road between the settlement of Ariel and the Za'tara Junction in the northern West Bank. The government has also allocated NIS 366 million to construct a road in the so-called Beit Eil Regional Council area, NIS 300 million for a new road between the settlement of 'Migron' and Qalandiya north of Jerusalem, NIS 200 million for a bypass road around the Palestinian village of Al-Fondoq, and NIS 150 million for a road in the Alfei Menashe settlement. Moreover, substantial amounts have been designated to build roads in and around East Jerusalem.
In addition to these allocations, the occupation government has assigned NIS 399 million to the Settlements Division of the World Zionist Congress, through the Ministry of Settlements and National Missions headed by MK Orit Struck, for West Bank settlements. The Settlements Division has provided loans to settlers to establish illegal outposts, such as 'Amona,' and has allocated lands that belong to private Palestinians, like 'Mitzpe Kerim' and the Givat Ulpana neighborhood in Beit El. Another NIS 74 million has been allocated to the Ministry to support settlement councils in monitoring illegal Palestinian construction, and an additional NIS 195 million has been earmarked for the Civil Administration to develop infrastructure in the West Bank.
However, the Occupation Government's actions go beyond mere budget allocations and extend to approving various settlement projects and plans. The construction of over 600 new settlement units in the Sheikh Jarrah Neighborhood in Jerusalem and 615 units in the Pisgat Ze'ev settlement has been approved. Additionally, a new settlement is planned to be built in the Ariel settlement, with the intention of isolating the northern villages in the Salfeet Governorate from Salfeet city.
These actions are part of a systematic displacement and ethnic cleansing policy implemented by the Israeli government against Bedouin communities in the West Bank, particularly in Anata, Al-Isawiya, and Al-Zaeem. The goal is to connect the Ma’ale Adumim settlement bloc, spanning approximately 73,000 kilometers and accommodating 19 Bedouin communities with a population of over 4,000 people, to Jerusalem. The plan also involves extending from Jerusalem to communities inhabited by the Arab Jahalin in the area known as E1, all