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Israel Annexes 150 Kilometers
In Northern West Bank

15 June, 2004
Palestine Media Center

Under the smokescreen of the widely-reported plan for an Israeli intended “disengagement” from the Gaza Strip, Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) are incessantly creating new facts on the ground and have started to annex 150 kilometers in the northern West Bank while plans are underway for building a new illegal Jewish settlement south of Jerusalem.

The IOF issued orders for the confiscation of Palestinian–owned land to start within two weeks for the construction of Israel’s Apartheid Wall east of the illegal Jewish settlements of “Ariel”, “Kedumim” and “Immanuel” in the northern West Bank, as the construction of a new settlement is being planned near Wallajeh village, south of Jerusalem.

The land confiscation in northern West Bank “is at variance with the US government’s understanding that such steps would not be taken in the foreseeable future, and that the separation fence project in these West Bank areas would be deferred,” the Israeli daily Ha’aretz reported Monday.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had promised Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the Wall in the “Ariel” area would be completed before the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip is finished, as a price for Netanyahu’s support for the “disengagement plan.”

Netzah Mashiah, who heads the Israeli “Defense” Ministry’s “seam area authority, told Ha’aretz on Sunday that plans call for the completion of the wall east of Ariel, Immanuel and Kedumim by May 2005.

Ha’aretz said that “about two weeks ago, civil administration officials in this West Bank region met with Palestinian Authority delegates and presented the land appropriation orders, along with a map of the precise area slated for the fence - the area is 3.5 kilometers long, and 100 meters wide, and runs between (the West Bank largest Jewish settlement of) Ariel and (the Palestinian town of) Salfit.”

The current plan to build the Wall from “Ariel” to “Kedumim” would eventually lead to the annexation of 150 kilometers of West Bank land to Israel.

Dozens of Palestinian villages will be affected by the construction of the Wall in these stretches of the West Bank. Residents of some of these villages will be caught in isolated enclaves.

American officials originally demanded that Israel abandon plans to build the Wall in these areas of the West Bank. Subsequently an agreement was reached with officials in Washington under which the Wall’s “extensions” are to be completed in 2004 east of “Ariel”, “Kedumim” and “Immanuel”, and then a year later these Wall stretches are to be connected to the Green Line.

New Settlement Planned South of Jerusalem

Separately, the Israeli media reported last week that construction of a new Jewish settlement on Palestinian land in the Walajeh village, south of Jerusalem was underway.

The plan envisions building the “Givat Yael” settlement on 2,000 dunams of the Palestinian village’s land. Isreali media claimed that most of the area was purchased from village residents by Jews.

The project’s architect, Shlomo Eshkol, estimated that the neighborhood will be able to absorb 55,000 illegal settlers. If the project is approved by the city planners of the Israeli occupation municipality, it will create an unbroken settlement sequence between Jerusalem and the illegal settlement of “Gush Etzion” to the south, he said.

In the near future, a “separation fence” will go up in the village, dividing its 2,000 families, Ha’aretz reported.

Deputy Mayor of the Jewish municipality of occupied Jerusalem Yehoshua Polak has already begun working to ensure that, if the Jewish settlement is built, the Apartheid Wall is moved so that it encompasses also the lands outside the Green Line.

Polak announced that the city is promoting the settlement. In a letter to the “Defense” Ministry, he asked that all the land be included within Jerusalem’s limits. “We want as many Jews as possible in Jerusalem to influence the demographic situation,” he said.

The IOF wounded dozens of Palestinian demonstrators protesting the construction of Israel’s Apartheid Wall in a Jerusalem neighborhood and in a northern West Bank village last week.

Earlier in the week, IOF began construction on the A-Ram section of the Wall around Jerusalem, the latest push forward in Israel’s project to build 370 miles (595 kilometers) of trenches, fencing, razor wire and concrete walls that would confiscate 58 percent of the West Bank area when completed.

The A-Ram section would cut off at least 64,000 Palestinian natives of Jerusalem.

On Friday, more than 65 Palestinian protesters were wounded when IOF shot at a peaceful demonstration in the village of Zawiya, near the town of Salfit, south of Nablus in the northern West Bank. They were protesting the construction of another section of the Wall for the third consecutive day.

Thirteen more Palestinians were wounded on Sunday in the ongoing protests in the village of Zawiya.

The Islamic Mufti of Jerusalem and the Holy Land Sheikh Ikremah Sabri prohibited Palestinians on Friday from helping the Jewish state construct the Wall, and branded anyone who did as a “traitor.”

Israel Sabotaging Peace Process: Erekat

Palestinian Cabinet Minister for Negotiations Saeb Erekat accused Israel of sabotaging the peace process.

Erekat told reporters that “Israel's decision to establish the separation wall around Jerusalem in order to alienate the city from its surroundings is part of the Israeli fait accompli that sabotage the peace process,” UPI reported on Sunday.

“Israel escalates military aggressions, confiscates lands, demolishes houses, kills and arrests Palestinians while Jewish settlements' activities are still underway. This requires a prompt move from the International Community,” Erekat added.

The Apartheid Wall Israel is building on occupied Palestinian slices the area into isolated enclaves where hundreds of thousands of Palestinians are cut off from services and separated from their agricultural land, their only source of income.

Secretary of State Colin Powell warned Sunday that a “Bantustan” solution of the Palestinian problem would not work, insisting the West Bank portion of a future Palestinian state should be contiguous.