Israel to build a new Settlement in the Jordan Valley

Israel to build a new Settlement in the Jordan Valley
Despite international calls to freeze settlements’ activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, the Israeli daily newspaper (Haaretz) published on its website today, the 18th of May 2009, that the Israeli Government intends to build a new Israeli settlement in the OPT. The announcement includes the construction of 20 new housing units in Masskiyot settlement in the northern valleys and coincides with the Israeli Prime Minister’s visit to the US to meet the U.S. President Barack Obama.
Earlier on the 24th of July, 2008, the Israeli Defense Ministry along with the Israeli Civil Administration declared their intention to activate a part of a development plan in Masskiyot settlement in the Northern Valleys which includes the construction of 20 new housing units out of 180 units that were slated to be built in the settlement during the year 2006, to accommodate more Israeli settlers there. The plan was to be granted an Authorization by the Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak that time. See Map

During the past two years, a notable controversy was generated over the Masskiyot training base, especially after the unilateral Israeli disengagement from the Gaza Strip in September 2005; during which, the former Israeli defense minister, Amir Peretz, promised to settle Gaza settlers’ evacuees in West Bank Settlements.  This was achieved when the IDF minister (Amir Peretz) ordered on the 22ed of May, 2006, to transfer the status of Masskiyot Military training Base into a residential settlement to accommodate 30 new Jewish families (approximately the 120 settlers) evacuated from the Gaza Strip settlements, including Gush Katif and Shirat Hayim. The Minister’s decision gave legitimacy to the Israeli settlement activities that were taking place at Masskiyot settlement during the first quarter of 2006, but were only revealed by mid June 2006.
Later on the 26th of December 2006, the Israeli Government ratified the construction of 30 housing units in the Settlement of Masskiyot to settle the 30 Jews families evacuated from Gaza Strip settlements. The decision has brought criticism among the international community and the U.S. administration, since it represents a direct violation of the agreements signed between the Israeli and Palestinian sides, and which obligates Israel to stop Israeli settlement activities in occupied Palestinian territories. This in turn,  has caused a delay in the implementation of the plan as the former Israeli Defense Minister ‘Amir Peretz’ announced later on the 19th of January 2007 to freeze settlement construction in Masskiyot. The decision to freeze settlement constructions also, caused more criticism among settlers of Gush Katif who expressed their anger from the Minister’s decision by saying that ‘The Israeli defense Minister is trying to achieve political achievements at the expense of settlers who are evicted from their homes; they do everything to prevent the people of Gush Katif from returning to normal life. Masskiyot construction plan was approved by the Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, and the decision to freeze settlement construction, is a subversive step and stems from a weak political objectives’.
On February 15, 2008, and as a response to the Israeli Minister’s decision to freeze building in Masskiyot settlement, Israeli settlers set down six trailer homes in Masskiyot settlement and nine families evacuated from the Gaza Strip settlements moved to live there. Yossi Hazut, Maskiot settlement leader stated that ’28 families are waiting to move in when more trailer homes arrive’; Adding to that, ‘His group decided to move in after being forcibly evacuated from Gaza in 2005 ‘…’If the settlers can’t protect Israel from its southern flank in Gaza, at least now they can guard its eastern side on this desert land known as the Jordan Valley.’
In light of the current political situation, Israel is looking to seize opportunities to tighten its grip on the occupied Palestinian territory and in particular, the eastern slope of the West Bank (Eastern Segregation Zone) by launching development and expansionist projects in Israeli settlements to reinforce the Jewish existence in the region and even increase the number of settlers in the territory.
Displacing Palestinians in the Jordan Valley area
At the time Israel is going forward with it expansionist plans in Israeli settlements in the Jordan Valley, Israel is seeking to displace Palestinians living in the same area. On the 23ed of July, 2008, the Israeli occupation authorities handed over Palestinian residents of Abu Al ‘Ajaj area in Al Jiftlik, in the northern valleys, three house evictions and demolition notices under the pretext of not having proper licensing documents as the area where they live is classified by the Israelis as ‘closed military zone’, where any kind of Palestinian construction is prohibited. This step threatens the entire neighborhood of displacement and deportation.
It is clear that the Israeli plan to isolate the eastern region of the West Bank, which is a home for 42 Palestinian communities (32000 Palestinians) aims at displacing Palestinians from their home area to reinforce the Jewish presence in the region, which is the systematic plan adopted by the consecutive Israel Governments ever since the 1967 war, when Israel occupied the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
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