Israel is using all possible means and settlement and military tools to limit the Palestinian presence in the West Bank and in the 1948 occupied territories, while boosting the Israeli presence in those areas.
The Israeli war minister, Avigdor Lieberman, has tabled a plan during the meeting of the Israeli security cabinet on Wednesday (8/10/2017), to limit the Palestinian presence near the separation wall in Jerusalem, and in one-third of the 1948 occupied areas, and in areas north and south of the West Bank.
According to the plan proposed by Lieberman, the targeted areas start from the Ein Gedi in the south and up to the outskirts of Jericho in the north, and it extends from the Gush Etzion settlement bloc north of Hebron to the western areas of Bethlehem and Ramallah up to the settlement of Beitar Illit and areas close to it.
The plan is an expanded version of the Alon security plan initiated in the 1970s to limit the Palestinian presence in the West Bank between two parallel lines, east and west of the West Bank: 10 kilometers east of the Green Line and 10 kilometers west of the Jordanian border.
Israeli settlers oppose the plan as well as the Jewish Home Party cause they fear that such a plan will demarcate the final borders for Israel and deprive them of annexing more West Bank lands.
Khalil Tafakji, an expert in Israeli settlements and the head of the maps department at the Orient House and the Arab Studies Society, warned against Lieberman’s plan, which will annex more than 30% of the West Bank, adding that the Jordan Valley represents one-third of the West Bank, which will be connected with the Green Line through the south of the West Bank and Ein Gedi area, as well as through the industrial zone at the Sheikh Hussein crossing on the Jordanian border from the north, all the way to the port of Haifa.
Objectives of the Plan
Tafakji said that Lieberman’s plan has pre-emptive goals in which he tries to exploit the current Palestinian and Arab disarray to his benefit, under the pretext of security threats to the state of Israel.
Tafakji stressed to the PIC that the aim of the plan is economic in the first place and has nothing to do with security.
The settlement expert pointed out that the separation wall to the south of the West Bank’s city of Hebron near the settlement of Gush Etzion, was launched a while ago, in line with the plan of the so-called Greater Jerusalem, to annex large areas of the Palestinian land, indicating that it extends north and west.
He pointed out that the separation wall extends beyond Ramallah and even beyond areas near the settlement bloc of Ariel. This is parallel with a settlement line swallowing large areas of Area C, “to close the ring at the top of the northern West Bank, tightening the grip around the outskirts of Tulkarem, as well as the settlements and the wall that surrounds Qalqilya from three directions.”
A Threat to Holy Sites
Tafakji pointed out that the most dangerous thing about this plan is in the Jerusalem area and the undeclared annexation of large parts of settlements southeast of the city of Jerusalem.
He pointed out that the borders of Ma’ale Adumim settlement reaches up to the Dead Sea, which means an implicit annexation of the area without a declaration, to cut the West Bank into two halves, and to hit its geographical contiguity, as well as the case with the Gush Etzion settlement bloc, whose construction and wall imposed restrictions on construction for Palestinians.
Threat to Jordan and Palestine
Tafakji explained that the wall in the Jordan valley has clear economic uses. The most important of which is the prevention of the Jordanian-Palestinian economic unification, through the Jericho gate, where the Israeli project aims to force the Palestinians away from the Jordanian border for economic, water and security reasons.
The Palestinian expert pointed out that Israel wants less contact between the Palestinians and the Jordanians so as to avoid a possible Palestinian influx from Jordan to the West Bank.
He added, “There is an Israeli fear of the Palestinian economic projects in the Jordan Valley and of any Palestinian tourist activity in the Dead Sea, as demanded by the Palestinian economic plan, as it hits the essence of the Israeli settlement and water project, and weakens the security of Israel as it claims, as well the Israeli demand of maintaining a presence in the Jordan Valley (for 20 years in any future settlement) for security reasons.
Tafakji believes that the construction of the wall on the eastern side of the West Bank means drawing the borderline of the future Palestinian state after doing so from the western side, by constructing the separation wall.
He added that all such schemes are in accordance with the Alon security plan that was developed in 1970s.
(Source / 10.08.2017)