Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Segregation, Settlements & De-Palestinisation

The Applied Research Institute - Jerusalem (ARIJ) gave us some fairly mind-blowing facts & statistics about "geopolitical" conditions in the OPT.

The Israeli "security barrier" which is the Wall was first announced in 2002. Since that time:

- 59 communities (90,000 people) have been isolated within the Western segregation zone, an area classified by the IDF(Israeli Defence Force) as a "Seam Zone" restricted to residents/permit holders.
- 29 wells & 32 springs have been isolated
- 189,000 km2 agricultural land and 128,400 km2 grazing land/open space is isolated within the zone
- Within the Eastern segregation zone the movement of people has been controlled with 25 checkpoints, blocking access in/out of the Jordan Valley zone.

Since 1968, the land registration process for Palestinians has been frozen, giving priority to Israeli settlers.

- Satellite images show 207 illegal settlements. This indicates urban areas, but settlements will often dominate the rural land around them.
- Israelis have appropriated 188 km2 of Palestinian land, encouraged by the government who at the same time have prevented Palestinians building on their own land.
- Developed "Outposts Technique" whereby hilltops near to existing settlements are 'captured' by settlers who build roads and establish caravan villages. 217 of these have been identified and could become 'proper' settlements.
- The number of housing units within existing settlements is also being increased.

De-Palestinisation of Jerusalem
Following the 6 Day War in 1967, the borders of East Jerusalem were exapanded so that the size of the city grew from 6.5 km2 to 71km2. This meant that the municipality now included the towns of Ramallah & Bethlehem. Since then:

- A new road network has been developed, which isolates Palestinian communities because only Israelis may use it.
- Sites such as Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem have been annexed and surrounded by the Wall, despite some Palestinian properties still existing within these areas. ('Wall annexes Rachel's Tomb, imprisons Palestinian families' )

Convergence Plan - to make sure that Israel remains a Jewish state at every cost

- Keep hold of settlement blocs
- Keep building the Wall
- Maintain control over the Jordan Valley
- Maintain control over 'unified' Jerusalem
- Maintain control of Palestinian movement in the West Bank & Gaza Strip

If all plans are implemented, a total of 49.6% of the West Bank will be under Israeli control.

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