New settlement plans to encircle Ramallah ghetto
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New settlement plans to encircle Ramallah ghetto

Many news agencies have written about a new plan which aims to expand the settlement of Kokhav Ya’acov, north-east of Qalandiya refugee camp. According to the plans, the project will add 11 000 housing units.

The goal is presumably to connect and expand the three settlements Bet El, Psagot, and Kokhav Ya’acov located east of Ramallah and al Bireh.

***image2***In fact, the Occupation forces have distributed military confiscation orders throughout the whole municipality of Jabal at-Tawiil, affecting a chain of four mountains on which the settlements are built. As the municipality has been completely bypassed no firm numbers are available. Not all the people affected have communicated the orders to the municipality, as some are out of the country and some orders remain in the post offices.

The area has been turned into a military closed zone since the settlements were established. Since the start of this Intifada the land has been cut off from the city via fencing that steals additional Palestinian land to ensure settlement expansion into the lands of Kufr Aqab, al Bireh and Ramallah. However, official confiscation orders were sent only during the months the Palestinian post office workers together with other public employees were on strike. This has conveniently ensured that most of the confiscation orders were received well after the deadline for appeals had passed.

So far the local authority has been able to ascertain the confiscation of 120 to 150 dunum of land. However, the distribution of the land under order of confiscation as well as the amount of land already turned into military zones indicates that the total amount could rise to up to 3000 dunums. Historically these lands have been either planted with olive trees or lentils or used as grazing ground in the mountainous areas.

The new plan would thus cut another deep finger from the east into the tight ghetto of Ramallah, making life in the created ghetto even more pressurized. From the west, confiscation orders of a month ago have taken further lands from along the line of the villages of Kobar, ein Qeniya and Beitunia. The Occupation is thus gradually constructing a U around Ramallah, expanding settlements, stealing Palestinian land, and ensuring Ramallah cannot grow as needed.

Furthermore, towards the south, this scheme would seal the isolation of Jerusalem in the north, moving the Occupation yet closer to its eventual goal of Judaizing the historic city.