2,000 Palestinians to be displaced, 73,000 settlement units planned
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2,000 Palestinians to be displaced, 73,000 settlement units planned

Since the beginning of this year, Occupation forces have escalated Jewish-only settlement construction in parallel with demolitions of Palestinian homes. 73,000 new settlement-housing units are planned – many of them in Jerusalem – while the Palestinian capital faces ever more virulent ethnic cleansing policies.

Demolition campaigns have increased tremendously in the Jerusalem, and the Occupation municipality in Jerusalem has decided to demolish 88 houses in a Silwan neighborhood, housing 1500 people, and 55 houses around Ras Shahada in Shufat refugee camp, from which 500 people will be expelled. Movement in and out of Jerusalem was also curtailed last month with the closing of the Dahayat al-Barid checkpoint, which was the main access point for 60,000 Jerusalemites living in ar-Ram and the northern parts of Jerusalem.

Occupation forces also carried out several large confiscations, with 3,200 dunums taken from Abu Dis, Beit Iksa, Nahalin, Jab’a, and Husan. This includes 1,700 dunums from Artas and al-Khader that have been confiscated for the settlement of Efrat.

The expulsion of Palestinian residents has been accompanied by drastic rise in the construction of settlement housing and infrastructure. Following the razing of Jahalin tents in the area in early February, an infrastructure project was completed in Ma’ale Adumim laying the groundwork for expansion. New neighborhoods are set to built that will create a geographical connection between Ma’ale Adumim and the settlements around and on the lands of al-‘Isawiya, az-Zayyam, Sheikh Jarah, Jabal al-Tur and the old city of Jerusalem. Still other plans call for construction of bridges and tunnels for the purpose of connecting settlements in Jerusalem with the interior. This will ensure the contiguity of the settlements and the isolation of the Palestinian areas from each other and the rest of the West Bank.

This policy of ethnic cleansing and demographic engineering is sustained by the construction of 73,000 housing units in the settlements of the West Bank. This number was published by the Zionist organization “Peace Now” following an investigation into the government’s official planning maps. These maps indicate that 15,000 news units have been issued all the necessary licenses to start construction while 58,000 are at different stages of planning.

In addition to Ma’ale Adumim, expansion will occur in the settlements of Betar Illit, Imanuel, and Efrat. 5,000 new units will be added in east Jerusalem.

The biggest settlement expansion will be in the areas of Abu Dis and Bethlehem. Ma’ale Adumim will be expanded on the land confiscated from Abu Dis, while the settlements of Betar Illit and Efrat will be expanded on the land belonging to Husan, Artas, and Nahalin.

These plans cover only 20% of the total Ministry of Housing future plans, which conclude that the number of settlers in the West Bank will double, reaching 300,000.

Settlement and ethnic cleansing measures are not new to the Palestinians in Jerusalem. Since the beginning of the occupation, high tax rates, a lack of municipal services, the cancellation of residency, the closure of Palestinian institutions, and the expulsion of Palestinians through house demolitions have all collectively served to marginalize the Palestinian communities.

The wide-scale demolitions coupled with the increase in settlement, however, mark a dangerous escalation of the Zionist project in Jerusalem. The city is cut off from the rest of the West Bank, and Palestinian residents are slowly being forced into shrinking cantons. The attempt to transfer the soon to be displaced residents of Silwan and Shufat to Beit Hanina and other areas are emblematic of a policy centered on controlling and destroying the Palestinian presence in the city.