2023 / 9 / 25
By: Madeeha Al-A’raj
The national Bureau for Defending the Land and Resisting Settlements stated in its latest weekly report , that Israeli Occupying State is not content with seizing Palestinian lands in the occupied West Bank, including Jerusalem, with brutal tools and turning them into a vital field for its destructive settlement activities, but it provides support to Israeli associations and companies that undertake construction operations in the settlements and market them as investment projects to attract the largest number of settlers to live in these settlements, it is an old issue but it began to take on new and dangerous dimensions with Netanyahu forming his government with the fascists and neo-Nazis, who won a large number of Knesset seats after the elections that took place in Nov. last year, from the parties of Religious Zionism, Jewish Power, and Noam, led by both BezalelSmotrich,Itamar Ben-Gvir and AviMaoz.
In order to achieve its goal of increasing the number of settlers, the Netanyahu-Smotrich-BenGvirGovernment sponsors settlement as the cornerstone of the policy and practices of the Zionist Movement, and also sponsors it as an investment project that attracts the participation of the private sector in more than one area and field, of which we review two fields -dir-ectly related to the theft of Palestinian lands, to name a few, to clarify the picture, the first is investment in housing, and the second is investment in the theft of fertile Palestinian lands, especially in the Palestinian Jordan Valley. With the formation of the Israeli government, in which BezalelSmotrich alongside the Ministry of Finance, is responsible for civil Administration and settlement affairs in the Ministry of the Army, conditions have become more ripe than ever before to intensify and deepen settlement in the West Bank, including Jerusalem, and to promote it as an investment project as well, with the aim of increasing the number of settlers to 1,000,000 settlers by the end of 2024.
Israeli Hayom Newspaper recently published reports on the subject, and claimed that Jewish investors who seek to invest in relatively small amounts are active behind the Green Line in areas intended for settlement construction in the West Bank, where the residential flat is initially marketed for only about NIS 170,000, so investors rush to buy. This is a low price when compared to the price of an apartment around the year 1948, which today on average amounts to about 1.6 million shekels according to the newspaper, especially since construction procedures in the West Bank are much faster than inside Israel, and more importantly, the profit resulting from this is very large.
According to the newspaper’s expectations from the moment the land is allocated for construction and progress is made in the construction process, the price of the apartment jumps to NIS 600,000, meaning that the concerned investors will receive four times the value of the investment. If the investors are afraid of the possibility of freezing settlement construction, then the new current government is responsible for dispelling all these fears.
According to Israeli data, especially the far-right and settler media, companies such as “Dissi Construction and Investment”, “Tzarvati Shimon”, “Tamar and Yael”, “AvniDeresh”, “Z.F.”, and others, which have been carrying out construction for years in the settlements reaps huge profits from this and confirms that work after the rise of the fascist right to power in Israel is better than any previous period, and that those who do not invest in these areas do not understand what the current Israeli investment reality is.
Israel Hayom explains that the bureaucratic path to approving building plans in the West Bank is much simpler than it is within the 1948 borders, as the time frame for approving plans is very short. In addition, there are no improvement fees in land deals, that is, in the event of reclamation and development, which leads to a saving of 35% - 50% compared to similar deals in Israel. It added that construction in the West Bank gained broad legitimacy in recent years, as ministers, members of the Knesset, and mayors tour the region and make promises to establish new settlements on these lands, and they expect to receive great support from the current Israeli government.
In general, to encourage the move of settlers to live in the settlements, official government data show that every Israeli who moves to live in the settlements receives support of more than -$- 50,000 annually, in addition to tax privileges and exemptions, many advantages, incentives and facilities, and the development of financial projects within and around them.
Accordingto the plans of the current Israeli government investment in settlement is not-limit-ed to residential apartments in existing settlements,´-or-the ones that are to be built by legitimizing dozens of settlement outposts and transforming them into new settlements´-or-neighborhoods that are also called pastoral farms. Rather, it extends over a wider area to cover various economic sectors to which the occupying State provides many facilities and incentives, so that investors in these sectors achieve lucrative profits.
The Palestinian Jordan Valley that starts from Jericho and the northern Dead Sea up to the borders of Tubas, that is, the southern, central and northern Jordan Valley, is a wide field for the work of colonial investors and Israeli investment companies. In this region, 65,000 Palestinians live in 29 towns and population centers, including about 15,000 Palestinians live in a number of small Bedouin communities, while the current Israeli government plans to increase the number of settlers in the area during the next two years from 12,000 to 30,000 settlers through extensive facilities for investment and housing in the area at lower prices than in the rest of the areas of the West Bank.
Since the rise of the fascist right to power in Israel following the recent elections to the Knesset, there has been widespread propaganda to stimulate housing and investment in the Palestinian Jordan Valley. Everyone knows that the occupying state, through legal tricks, has increased the area of “state land” in this region to about 54% of its area that is four times what it was before 1967, and declared large areas of it as firing zones and closed 20% of its area as nature reserves. That is, it controlled more than 80% of its area. Theoretically, the occupying state allocated 12% of this area to settlements, outposts, and pastoral farms, but in practice, the entire area has turned into a vital field for investments and settlement activities.
The Palestinians in the area are trapped in small ghettos, deprived of the right to urban planning and construction and the right to access water to develop their agriculture, especially since the water in the eastern basin, which is the most important basin in the West Bank, is allocated exclusively to settlers and settlements. Settlement in the Palestinian Jordan Valley, in addition to being a robbery of Palestinian lands, is a very rewarding investment process for settlers and investment companies, as palm farms, roses, herbs, vegetables, poultry, cows, artificial lakes, and other Israeli investments reap profits estimated at about -$- 750 million annually, according to the worst and lowest estimates. As for the Palestinian side, its losses are no less than -$-800 million due to the severe restrictions on their gatherings, what remains of their land, and on their investments.
At the level of destructive settlement activities sponsored by the Netanyahu-Smotrich-BenGvir Government, it seems that we are facing an unprecedented fourth wave that is changing the situation in the West Bank, including Jerusalem, at an increasing pace. This government is pushing plans to build thousands of settlement units in the West Bank, along with thousands more in East Jerusalem. Since its formation in December of last year, the Civil Administration under the leadership of Smotrich has been promoting settlement projects after the Jewish holidays through legislation in the Knesset and giving the green light to the Planning Council of the Civil Administration and the Ministry of Housing to begin the promotion process after they have passed the submission of plans and approval, knowing that promotion is the final stage in the approval stages of construction plans.
A comparison between last year and the first half of this year, there has been a major boom in construction operations in West Bank settlements. After the construction bids approved in 2022 where about 4,427 housing units, the number tripled in the first half of 2023, as the Supreme Planning Council, which approves construction projects in the West Bank, met three times in 2023 and approved the construction of 12,855. housing units, in addition to publishing tenders for the construction of 1,289 units that have already been approved, which represents the largest number of housing units that have been developed in West Bank settlements, including Jerusalem, since the Oslo Accords.
This government has taken a number of steps to advance the construction process in the settlements, including agreeing to legitimize the occupation of 15 settlement outposts and -convert-ing 10 of them into new settlements and five outposts as neighborhoods in existing settlements. This acceleration in the intensification of construction operations in the settlements and in giving false legitimacy to many settlement outposts comes in light of the decision to establish a “settlers administration” and transfer the powers of the Civil Administration to BezalelSmotrich, Minister of Settlement in the Ministry of the Army, who created this new governmental body to supervise all aspects of settlers’ life inside the occupied territories.
In addition, the Civil Administration announced its intention to begin building a road between Al-Eizariya and Al-Za’im near the Ma’aleAdumim settlement, with the aim of diverting Palestinian traffic away from Ma’aleAdumim, and restricting their movement in a wide area in an effort to annex Ma’aleAdumim, including the ‘E1’ area, in a verification step. A system of separate roads for Israelis and Palestinians ‘the apartheid road’, as well as a plan to establish the “Sha’rShomron” industrial zone, west of the two industrial zones in the Barkan and Ariel settlements. The industrial zone is expected to become the largest settlement industrial zone in the West Bank ‘2,700 dunams’ with an area 2 million square meters for industrial and commercial use.
At the same time, the West Bank Settlements Council, “Yesha”, headed by the extreme right-wing Likud, ShlomoNeeman, is working to push 11 draft laws in the Knesset after the Jewish holidays next October to annex large areas of the West Bank to the occupying state, with a focus on the eastern and northern Jordan Valley. Indeed, the most dangerous annexation project is the draft law applying Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley, which was presented to the Knesset for the first time in 2022 at the initiative of the Regional Council for the Jordan Valley Settlements, “Megilot,” which includes the Jordan Valley settlements such as KochavHaShahar, Rimonim, Ma’aleMikhmas, MitzpeHagit, and Ma’ale. Adumim, Mitzpe Jericho and others, where about 12,000 settlers live in these settlements. The occupation government plans to raise the number of settlers to 30,000 within two years.
In provocative act that constitutes a challenge to international law and a blatant assault on the right of the Palestinian people to sovereignty over their land under occupation, an official American delegation accompanied by Yossi Dagan, head of the Settlement Council in the northern West Bank, called last March for burning the town of Huwara and wiping it out of presence, and members of the delegation included a number of prominent American official figures, including the head of the Republican Party in the aforementioned state, Congressman Anthony D Esposito, Senator Patricia Canzoneri Fitzpatrick, and member of the Republican National Committee Joe Cairo, in addition to Nassau County Chairman Bruce Blakeman and his wife, District Judge Segalvisited what the occupying state calls “the observation platform on the state balcony” in the Badawil settlement, which the occupation established on the lands of the towns of DeirBallut and Kafr al-Dik in Salfit Governorate in 1984, where they listened to an explanation from Dagan and other settler leaders about the security needs and the importance of settlement.
Yossi Dagan is known for his racist extremism and his belonging to the neo-Nazi group and terrorists in Israel, which gives the visit more than one meaning, encourages illegal settlement in the West Bank, including Jerusalem, provides support and encouragement to the neo-Nazis in Israel and their terrorist leaders, which holds the members of the American delegation doubly responsible for the suffering that the Palestinian people are experiencing under occupation. This irresponsible act is taking place at the same time that terrorist settlers from the “Hill Youth” thugs attacked a diplomatic delegation from 10 European countries during its tour of the Wadi al-Siq Bedouin community threatened by forced displacement, near the town of DeirDibwan, east of the city of Ramallah, and chased it into the the town of Al-Taybeh, adjacent to Al-Marjat street.
List of Israeli Assaults over the Last Week Documented by the National Bureau:
• Storming Al-Eizariya Girls Basic School after blowing up its doors. They searched it, seized its surveillance camera, destroyed part of its contents, and caused major material damage.
• Calls to settltrs to carry weapons during the holidays.
• Trying to seize citizens lands in MasaferYatta under the protection of the occupation forces, placed barbed wire around approximately 50 dunams, adjacent to the ‘Karmiel’ settlement, in an attempt to seize it with the aim of expanding the settlement.
• Issunig a plan to expand the settlement at the expense of citizens’ lands located between “Umm al-Khair” and “Sedat al-Thaala,” specifically on the eastern side of the aforementioned settlement.
• Injuring young man, Abdullah Ragheb Abu Aisha, in a settler attack on citizens and their homes in Tel Rumeida neighborhood, where he was stabbed with a knife in the back, causing injuries that were described as moderate. Meanwhile, a number of settlers threw stones and empty bottles at citizens and their homes, causing the shattering of a number of windows near the “Ramat Yishai” settlement. Settlers from the “Karmiel” settlement demolished a residential tent and a sheep barn, forced the citizen Mahmoud Daoud to leave the “Ein al-Bayda” area, and displaced his family and his children.
• Setting up a tent and a barn for livestock on the lands of “Um Al-Haman,” overlooking the Al-Mufaqara and Khallet Al-Dabaa communities in Masafrita, in preparation for establishing a settlement outpost in the place.
• Demolishing a facility for selling building materials in the town of Beita, south of Nablus, belonging to the citizens Mahdi and ThaerDweikat, under the pretext that it violates and is close to the new settlement road, which the occupation builds in the lands of Beita, Huwara and Odla. The total area of the project is estimated at four dunams, which were completely bulldozed without a prior warning was imposed on the goods contained therein, without allowing them to be transported, and their value is estimated at NIS 3 million.
• Storming the village of Urif and raided four houses, and took their measurements, in preparation for their demolition, noting that three of the targeted houses were inhabited.
• Attacking citizens’ homes in the Al-Masoudiyah area, which is part of the Burqa lands, causing damage to their windows.
• Delivering notices to stop work and construction to 23 houses in the town of QarawatBani Hassan, west of Salfeet, under the pretext that they are located in areas “C,” noting that 9 houses are inhabited and the others are under construction. The number of notices that were distributed during the current year reached more than 100.
• Demolishing a car wash at the western intersection of Haris village under the pretext that it was located in Area C.
• Storming the village of Jalboun, northeast of Jenin, from the southern side, under the guard and protection of the occupation army. The settlers threatened the villagers if they approached the wall adjacent to the settlement and prevented the owners of neighboring houses from leaving their homes by force and at gunpoint.
• Demolishing a number of homes and agricultural facilities in the village of FaroushBeitDajan in the Central Jordan Valley, under the pretext of being in Area C, thus, the occupation prevents the construction of any new construction there.
• Notifying to demolish three “barracks” and a tent in the airport area east of the city of Jericho, belonging to the citizen Jamal Muhammad Jahalin, and his two sons, Daoud and Ahmed, and demolished a house under construction in the village of Al-Jiftlik, under the pretext of building without a license.