Israel in Massive West Bank Land Grab

Israel is planning a huge West Bank land grab that would further isolate Al-Quds (occupied East Jerusalem) and leave a future Palestinian state unviable, the Israeli Peace Now group has revealed.

"What they have in their minds is the expansion of Maale Adumim and this is one step towards that," Peace Now spokeswoman Hagit Ofran told the Independent Monday, April 27.

The group, which monitors Israel’s land seizure and settlement expansion in occupied Palestinian territories, unveiled Sunday a secret plan to link Maale Adumim, the biggest Jewish settlement in the occupied West bank, to the nearby Kedar settlement.

The plan will see the seizure of around 11,500 dunams of Palestinian land between the two separate settlements.

The Israeli government intends to use the land to build about 6,000 new units to house 25,000 new Jewish settlers.

Israel has already begun constructing 60 new housing units in Al-Quds.

"The works aim to build 60 housing units for Orthodox religious Jewish families right next to the Palestinian neighborhood of Arab al-Sawahra," said Ofran.

"They aim to complete a belt of Jewish neighborhoods that will surround east Jerusalem."

Israel has built more than 164 Jewish-only settlements on the West Bank since 1967, eating up more than 40 percent of the occupied territory.

Last month, Peace Now revealed that Israel was planning to build as many as 73,000 apartments and housing units across the West Bank.

The international community considers all Jewish settlements on occupied Palestinian land illegal.

Undermining Peace

The new settlement expansion, seen as part of an Israeli strategy to change the demographic reality in the occupied West Bank, is a new bloc to peace talks.

"We are against this project, which is harming the hopes for peace," said Ofran, the Peace Now spokeswoman.

Palestinian MP Hanan Ashrawi condemned the scheme as "extremely dangerous".

She said this and the several other recent plans reflect "a mad rush to expand settlements to complete the isolation and siege of Al-Quds."

Israel captured Al-Quds in the 1967 six-day war and later annexed it in a move not recognized by the international community.

It has since adopted a series of oppressive measures to force the Palestinian residents of the holy city out, including systematic demolition of their homes.

The Israeli government has recently announced plans to demolish 88 Palestinian houses in the Silwan neighborhood of Al-Quds on grounds of lacking building permits.

It also plans to evict Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.

"Israel is destroying any chances of an agreement," warns Ashrawi.
( and newspapers)

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