OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– The Israeli government is implementing a plan to increase the Jewish majority in Jerusalem to establish the ‘Greater Jerusalem’, said the director of the cartography department in the Arab Studies Association and expert on Israel’s settlement policies, Khalil al-Tafkaji.
In an exclusive interview with the Palestinian Information Center (PIC) al-Tafkaji stated, “The successive Israeli governments, especially Netanyahu’s first and second governments, have all contributed in the E1 settlement project that aims at geographically disconnecting the north and south of the West Bank. The project eliminates the remaining space to expand ‘East Jerusalem’ as a capital for the (projected) state of Palestine.”
Al-Tafkaji pointed out that the Israeli government is secretly working to establish a “bi-national” state away from the two-state solution. He confirmed that this does not only include the E1 project, but also the widespread expansion of settlements south and north of Jerusalem, in addition to the expansion of the industrial zone in the settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim to the Dead Sea.
Meanwhile, Peace Now organization announced recently the scheme of the Israeli Ministry of Construction and Housing, which includes building 55,548 illegal settlement units in the Palestinian territories in the West Bank and Jerusalem. The scheme consists of more than 25,000 units to the east of the Separation Wall, and 8,378 units in At-Tur and ‘Anata. Furthermore, two Israeli settlements are to be built to the south of Bethlehem and the north of Jordan Valley, in addition to more than 12,000 settlement units in the Old city of Jerusalem.
Al-Tafkaji confirmed that working on the E1 settlement project has not stopped for years, as the infrastructure has already been built, in addition to a district police headquarters. The E1 zone, according to him, is connected with the settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim from the east, and the Eastern Ring Road and the French Hill from the west.
Al-Tafkaji said, “The project imposes two risks. Firstly, the site of the project eliminates the Palestinian hope of having a Palestinian capital in Jerusalem, as it is the only space left for expansion in East Jerusalem. Secondly, the project constitutes a tremendous settlement area connected with East Jerusalem and Ma’aleh Adumim, separating the north and the south of the West Bank.”
The Palestinian and Arab response to the Israeli plan, according to al-Tafkaji, is nonexistent, especially in the light of the ongoing regional Arab split. “The project is timely, allowing Israel to carry out the whole process without even an Arab condemnation,” said al-Tafkaji.
He added that Israel is quite comfortable nowadays as the U.S. is preparing for the next elections and is busy with Russia, Syria, Iraq and ISIS. In addition, Europe is dealing with immigrants and terrorism, thus giving Israel the space to accelerate its settlement projects.
Al-Tafkaji concluded, “This is how Israel has built 217 settlements, as part of the Seven Star Plan of the former Minister of Housing, Ariel Sharon, which aimed at establishing a group of Israeli settlements inside the Palestinian territories.”
(Source / 31.12.2016)