“Planning & Conspiring… and the Palestinians are paying the price”
New Israeli Arrangements to expand the Administrative Control Area of Gush Etzion Settlement Bloc.
Currently, the Israeli settlers of Gush Etzion settlement bloc are working on reshaping the Israeli negotiation statement which was adopted by the Israeli political leadership according to their never-ending expansionist plans. They have reintegrated the so-called Eastern Gush Etzion settlement bloc–which includes the Illegal Israeli settlements of Nekodim, Teqou', Kfar Eldad, and Ma'ale 'Amous with a combined population of more than 3000 Israeli settlers–with new lands allocated for expansionist purposes, particularly after terminating the last stage of constructing the Israeli bypass road # 356 adjacent to the city of Beit Sahour.
The new bypass road was in fact created to facilitate the movement of Israeli settlers living in Gush Etzion bloc: now they can reach the city of Jerusalem within 15 minutes, whereas before they had to travel for 45 minutes to Jerusalem. This encourages Israeli settlers to buy propery in the illegal bloc. Moreover, the value of housing units in the East Gush Etzion bloc has reached unprecedented levels: the price of apartments has gone up by more than 70 %, similarly to the price of the housing units in West Gush Etzion (which is considered by the Israelis as a part of the 'Greater Jerusalem' surrounded by the Israeli Segregation Wall). See Map 1
In terms of what is practiced on the ground in East Gush Etzion settlement bloc, the Israeli settlers are wreaking havoc in the Palestinian lands and imposing their control over the adjacent Palestinian lands under the pretext that these lands are classified by the Israeli authorities as 'State Land' or ' Military Area'. Similarly, a number of Israeli settlers from the nearby Israeli settlement bloc have systematically invaded the 'Ush Ghurab location, between Za'tara village and the city of Beit Sahour, and tried to install a new illegal outpost on the site under the protection of the IOF.
It is worth mentioning that 'Ush Ghurab area was a military base for the Jordanian military before it was captured by Israel in 1967. It remained as an Israeli military camp until 2006 when it was evacuated. Following the evacuation of the 'Ush Ghurab site, Beit Sahour Municipality, in collaboration with the USAID (United States Agency for International Development), had started to implement a project to develop the site to the interest of the residents of the city of Beit Sahour and the nearby cities and villages.
However, the Israeli settlers of East and West Gush Etzion settlement bloc launched organized raids on the 'Ush Ghurab site aiming to reoccupy the land in order to build a new Illegal outpost, the nucleus for a future settlement called 'Shadma', planned mainly with the purpose to link the East Gush Etzion settlement bloc with the Har Homa settlement located south of the city of Jerusalem. Furthermore, the Mayor of the East Gush Etzion bloc has launched a campaign to freeze Israeli procedures of handing the site over to the Palestinians as an addition to the systematic visits carried out by the Israeli settlers.
The Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem