Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Zion Remaps Shomron and Yehuda again

israel settlement west bank jews palestine conflict war conflict israel america us
Israeli authorities remapped occupied West Bank territory to facilitate settlements, including one acre near Gitit. In Picture: Israeli children hold Israeli national flags as they wait ahead of a dedication ceremony of a new neighbourhood in the Jewish settlement of Gitit in the Jordan Valley January 2, 2014

Israel remapped over 15,000 acres of West Bank last year to enable its citizens to undertake settlement construction in the territory that Palestinians claim belongs to them. The exercise was carried out by "Blue Line," a special team working for the Civil Administration, the Haaretz reported.

The exercise was significantly higher in scale when compared to previous years, the publication said. While 3,000 acres were remapped in 2013, the exercise spanned about 5,000 acres in 2014.

The existing rules mandate that areas declared as state land before 1999 need to be remapped by the Civil Administration to allow construction.
Once the exercise is completed, Palestinian homes would be declared as those built on state (Israeli) land. Also, such an exercise would deprive Palestinians living in "military fire zones" from seeking the High Court of Justice's intervention to stop any (Israeli) activity in those areas.

The news comes even as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted at reviving the 2002 Arab peace initiative in response to a statement by Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi a few days ago.

"The Arab peace initiative includes positive elements that can help revive constructive negotiations with the Palestinians," Reuters quoted Netanyahu as saying in Jerusalem on Monday.

"We are willing to negotiate with the Arab states revisions to that initiative so that it reflects the dramatic changes in the region since 2002 but maintains the agreed goal of two states for two peoples," he added.

The 2002 Arab peace initiative assures Israel diplomatic recognition from Arab countries if the Jewish state grants statehood to Palestinians.

The initiative was modified three years ago to incorporate "possible land swaps between Israel and the Palestinians" as against the original position that Israel would get full diplomatic recognition only "if it gave up all land seized in the 1967 Middle East war and agreed to a just solution for Palestinian refugees," according to the news agency.

The Civil Administration re-mapped over 15,000 acres in the West Bank last year, which suggests an intention to embark on wide-scale settlement construction.

The mapping was done by a special team called “Blue Line,” working for the Civil Administration.

The project involves the examination of maps of areas designated as state lands last century.

The old maps are digitally scanned, making them more accurate.

In order to permit construction on land that was declared as state land before 1999, the Civil Administration is required to map it again.

Mapping over 15,000 acres is a significant increase in the rate of mapping carried out, in comparison to previous years. In 2014 only 5,000 acres were mapped, while in 2013 slightly over 3,000 acres were mapped.

Apparently, one of the objectives of the new mapping is to prevent Palestinians living in military fire zones from petitioning the High Court of Justice against the activity taking place near their homes.

The assumption is that if the mapping clarifies that the land is state land, Israel can argue that Palestinian houses were built on it after the area was designated as state land.
Judging by the distribution of these areas, one can assess where the state is intending to allow settlements to be built. Thus, 240 acres were mapped near Nokdim. Almost one acre is near the settlement of Gitit. Almost 11 mapped acres near Tarkumiya are not close to any existing settlement.

Settlement researcher Dror Etkes, who analyzed the data,said that “it’s important to realize that these mapping efforts are directed almost exclusively deep into the West Bank and to settlements that are far from the settlement blocs, and to areas designated earlier by Israel as fire zones, even though it’s obvious that they comprise part of the pool of land that Israel is gradually handing over to settlements.”

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