dimanche 23 avril 2017

Israeli invites 'Arabs' to live on new outpost built on private Palestinian land

"israel" invite les Arabes à vivre sur un avant-poste construit sur des terres palestiniennes privées

The new illegal outpost, near the illegal settlement
 of Adam, April 19, 2017. (Peace Now)

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- A new Israeli outpost has been established on privately-owned Palestinian land southeast of Ramallah in the central occupied West Bank on the outskirts of the existing illegal
Adam settlement, also known as Geva Binyamin, in contravention of domestic Israeli and international law.

According to Israeli daily Haaretz, Assaf Maman, a Jewish Israeli from Jerusalem, decided to establish the outpost because he “can’t afford a home anywhere else,” and envisions that both Israelis and Palestinians of any religion will live in the community.

“In Jerusalem there’s a housing crisis and it’s crowded. Here there’s room and I can start something from scratch, a village of Arabs and Jews,” Haaretz quoted Maman as saying.

However, Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now affirmed in a statement Friday that the outpost was being built illegally, without approvals and permits, and said that there was no indication Palestinians would be allowed to live there.

Referring to the report by Haaretz, which is generally considered Israel's most left-leaning newspaper, Peace Now said: "It seems that the flashy headline (“Israeli Sets Up New 'Jewish-Arab' West Bank Outpost, to Chagrin of Settler Neighbors”) was due to a remark by one of the settlers. However, according to Peace Now's field visits and research, with quite certainty, there are no such indications that this is true."

Peace Now noted that the outpost was the first to be established since the Israeli government declareda new policy towards settlement construction, that notably stated that construction should be limited to within the “built up area” or "the footprint" of an existing settlement, and that creation of new illegal outposts would be prohibited.

“Needless to say is that by being constructed outside the fence of Adam, the new outpost is not only a new outpost, but also beyond the ‘built up area’ of the settlement, regardless of the lack in a clear definition to what ‘built up area’ means,” Peace Now said.

Peace Now pointed out that the new outpost's location was chosen for being positioned in an area under the jurisdiction the so-called Binyamin Regional Council that administers illegal settlements in the area -- known for its financial and political support of illegal outposts -- rather than under the jurisdiction of Israel's Civil Administration that has enforced demolition orders against illegal Israeli outposts in the past.

Map of the new outpost's location (Peace Now)According to Peace
 Now, there are at least 18 illegal outposts within the Binyamin regional council’s jurisdiction.

The new, still expanding outpost is currently comprised of seven light structures, while its settlers have also established a road that connects to a locked gate in the fence of Adam settlement, Peace Now said.

The watchdog noted that while the settlers claimed to be establishing the outpost for economic, rather than ideological reasons, as such outposts are usually constructed by far-right extremist Israelis, “regardless for the reasoning behind the outpost residents, the political implication of the outpost are the same.”

“The outpost is located deep in the West Bank and beyond the separation barrier. What distinguishes this outpost from others, is the settler leadership’s cynical exploitation of the economic situation of the new residents of the outpost, by granting them free land and enabling them to construct homes illegally, as long as it contributes to the settler goals of destroying the possibility of ever creating a Palestinian state,” Peace Now said.

While the Israeli settlers’ may complain of economic hardship in Jerusalem, a staggering four out of five Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem live under the poverty line, making applying for costly building permits there nearly impossible, an only seven percent of Jerusalem building permits are allocated to Palestinian neighborhoods.

As a result, Jeruslamite Palestinians are the target of routine home demolitions. According to the United Nations, at least 135 Palestinians have been left homeless and at least 59 structures have been demolished in occupied East Jerusalem since the beginning of the year.

In addition, due to crippling unemployment in the West Bank, tens of thousands of Palestinians are forced to seek a living by working inside Israel and illegal Israeli settlements, as the growth of an independent Palestinian economy has been stifled under the ongoing Israeli military occupation, according rights groups.

Notably, the only Palestinians cited in Haaretz’ report to support were laborers working at the outpost, who told the Israeli newspaper they would be “happy” live there -- “though he didn’t sound terribly convincing," Haaretz wrote.

Meanwhile, nearly all Palestinian applications for building permits in Area C -- the area of the occupied West Bank under full Israeli control where the outpost has been established -- are denied by the Israeli authorities, forcing communities to build illegally, and placing them under the constant risk of demolitions at the hands of Israeli forces.

At least 250 Palestinians have been left homeless and at least 162 structures have been demolished in Area C since the beginning of the year, according to the UN.

In contrast, the estimated 550,000 Jewish Israeli settlers in the occupied Palestinian territory are more easily given building permits and allowed to expand their homes and properties, despite contravening international law.

Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, passed the outpost “Regularization law” in February, which could grant official Israeli governmental recognition to more than a dozen illegal settlement outposts in the West Bank established on private Palestinian lands.

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