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http://www.odaction.org/challenge/44/article.html Challenge Magazine No. 44

From the Folks Who Brought You "Har Homa"

"The New Jerusalem": Final Cut

By Michal Schwartz

While everyone is distracted by the new Jewish settlement at Har Homa continues to distract the public, Israel is quietly laying the foundations for a much more dangerous and ambitious project.

The details lie in a new master plan for Ma''le Adumim, a massive Jewish settlement in the West Bank east of Jerusalem. Israel will soon annexis to take almost 12,500 dunams (3100 acres) from five Palestinian villages to Ma'ale Adumim. These villages are Abu Dis, Al-Azariah, A-Zaim--A-Tour, Anata and Khizmeand annex them to Ma'ale Adumim. The villages are Abu Dis, Al-Azariah (Bethany), A-Zaim (A-Tour), Anata and Hizme (see map). Stripped of their lands, the five villages will be left with no space for development -- no room for schools, hospitals, industry, agriculture andor housing for future generations. They will be reduced to tiny Palestinian islands in an Israeli sea.

The plan has far-reaching implications for the final borders between Israel and a future Palestinian state. By annexing these lands Israel will create Jewish territorial continuity all the way from West Jerusalem to Ma'ale Adumim's eastern border, which itself is only a few miles away from the Palestinian town of Jericho. (TheOn the adjoining map, one can see that Israel has already annexed a huge amount of land, which it calls "the Adumim settlement bloc." A strip remains between this bloc and Jerusalem's municipal boundary (which is new plan provides for a further eastward expansion of the settlement!) On a north-south axis, the lands connect Ma'ale Adumim to other (illegal) Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem : from Pisgat Zeev in the north, heading south through Neve Yacov, French Hill, and almost all the way to Har Homaindicated by heavy dashes). The lands now slated for annexation will fill that gap, creating Jewish territorial continuity from West Jerusalem to the eastern border of Ma'ale Adumim.

Once the annexation is complete, there are strong indications that Israel plans tois major annexation is complete, Israel will probably bring Ma'ale Adumim and Jerusalem under one administrative roof. Both these steps - first creating territorial continuity and then political unity - pave the way for an inevitable annexation of the whole area to Israel in the final agreement. TheThe combination of territorial continuity and political unity will make it virtually inevitable that in the final agreement, the whole area will be allotted to Israel. This "Greater Jerusalem" will then fused metropolitan area of Jerusalem and Ma'ale Adumim, called Greater Jerusalem, will then splice the West Bank horizontallysplit the West Bank into two disconnected parts. The Palestinian communities in East Jerusalem and the villages falling within the planned Greater Jerusalem areaside the new entity will in turn be cut off from the two halvenorthern and southern sections of the West Bank.

"The new master plan for Ma'ale Adumim is much more dangerous than Har Homa, because it lays the foundations for Greater Jerusalem," says Ihab Abu Ghosh, an advocate from the Quaker�s Legal Institute who represents several land Service who represents landowners from the five villages. "It totally ignores the Arab nature of East Jerusalem, and thus liquidisolates the Palestinian neighborhoods inside Greater Jerusalem, separating them from each other and from the rest of the West Bank."

Israel first confiscated the lands of the five villages in the 1980s. Confiscation, however, is not as final as annexation. The Palestinians still stand a chance of recovering these lands during the interim negotiations, which are yet to be concluded. Once Israel annexes these lands to Ma'ale Adumim, however, they will no longer fall within the ambit of the interim negotiations, since the Oslo accords relegate all discussions on settlements to the final Ma'ale Adumim is a settlement, and the Oslo accords relegate all discussion of settlements to the final status talks.

So once the interim phase is over, But Israel considers Ma'ale Adumim an important strategic asset because of its size and proxmity to Jerusalem. There is no chance that it will agree to dismantle it in a final territorial arrangement with the Palestinians. In fact, even the Palestinian Authoritythe Palestinians will have a much more difficult task. Israel will never agree to dismantle Ma'ale Adumim, which it considers an important strategic asset because of its size and proximity to Jerusalem. Even the Palestinian Authority (PA) is resigned to this fact. (The Beilin-Abu Mazen agreement testifies to this ). The "interim" annexation is thenattests as much. This is a joint proposal by 12 Likud and Labor members for the final talks.) The "interim" annexation, therefore, is actually "final." To drive thise point home, Israel plans to build several tourist centers, five hotels, a college and a cemetery owithin the annexed area, creating facts on the ground during the interim period that the Palestinians will very hardfind impossible to reverse at the final stage.

Moreover, the new master plan will probably receive unanimous support in the Knesset. After all, it was the brainchild of Labor not Likud. (The previous Labor government head by Yitzhak Rabin announced the plan in January 1994.) But the "Allon-plus" map of the Likud Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu,, not the Likud. (Yitzhak Rabin announced it in January 1994.) Recently Benjamin Netanyahu unveiled his own map for the final arrangement, which projects an almost identical view of the final borders. The map, published by Zeev Schiff,(See in the issue, �Bibi�s New Algebra', by Yacov Ben Efrat). Published by Ze�ev Schiff in the Hebrew daily Ha'aretz on the military correspondent of Ha'aretz, in the Hebrew daily on May 29,May 29, the map clearly shows the Jerusalem-Ma'ale Adumim belt cutting through the West Bank, creating into two isolated Palestinian cantons.

Israel is therefore trying to push through the annexation one way or another while there is still a consensus within the country, and while it can still exploit the loopholes in the Oslo accords during the interim stage.

The Civil Administration, for example, published the final plan, dubbed "E1," in the Palestinian daily Al-Quds in March this year in order to solicit; such publication is required by law, so that people may have the chance to file objections. The map, however, did not clearly indicate the area to be annexed. The Civil Administration, it appeared, deliberately wanted to defeat the map's main purpose of soliciting objectionswas deliberately circumventing the legal requirement.

As a result, landowners found it impossible to check ifwhether their plots were slotated for annexation. They had to make extensive (and costly) inquiries in order to find out exactly which portions of the villages were to be annexed, expending much time, money and energy for no fault of their own. They found that the Authority. Besides tUri Yacov, the spokesperson for Ma'ale Adumim, refused to give Challenge any information about this or comment about the new master plan. He directed us insstead to the Civil Administration and the Ministry of Housing.

What does the PA have to say about all this? At first sight its priorities appear baffling. Har Homa undoubtedly delivers another blow to Palestinian aspirations in East Jerusalem. But the plan for Ma'ale Adumim does that and much more. Yet, the PA fritters its energies away on Har Homa, while keeping silent about the proposed annexation near Ma'ale Adumim. One can understand why Israel wants to hide the facts from the landowners and residents of the village, but the PA's silence is disturbing.

On the contrary,The residents of the five villages strongly suspect that the Authorityuspect that the PA has reached a secret understanding with Israel. They were intrigued, for instance, when Israel permitted the AuthorityPA to construct a new road connecting the village of Abu Dis to the bypass known as Wadi Nar. Israel has, in the past, consistently prohibited the Palestinians from constructing this road. After the Israeli closure, Wadi Nar, a dangerous, serpentine road, remained the only route linking then the past Israel has consistently prohibited this construction. After Israel imposed closure in 1993, the only remaining link between the northern and southern portions of the West Bank southern and northern parts of the West Bank. But sections of Wadi Nar fall within Ma'ale Adumim's new master plan. Therefore the only remaining connection between the northern and southern parts of the West Bank is in danger of being blocked (Palestinians are not allowed to enter "Israeli" territory, including settlements). Residents suspect that the new road is meant to substitute those segments of Wadi Nar that Israel will annex. In other words, they believe the Authority has accepted Israel's annexation as a forgone conclusionwas this Wadi Nar, a steep, serpentine desert track. The journey from Bethlehem to Ramallah, which used to take half an hour via Jerusalem, suddenly became five times as long and many more times as dangerous. (Israelis can drive from Jerusalem to Haifa in the same time.) Wadi Nar remains the only link until this day.

Sections of Wadi Nar, however, fall within Ma'ale Adumim's new master plan. Since Palestinians are not permitted to enter "Israeli" territory, including settlements, the plan would block the only remaining link. This is the reason, residents suspect, why Israel has finally authorized construction of the new road out of Abu Dis: it would serve as a substitute for the annexed sections of Wadi Nar. Thus the whole deal appears to have been worked out in advance. The villagers believe that the PA has accepted Israel's annexation of their lands.

Jamil Othman Nasser, the Palestinian "governor" of Jerusalem, is based in Abu Dis,. He admitted to Challenge that Israel was indeed planning does plan to annex parts of Wadi Nar. He also confirmed that the Authority PA is building a new road.

Another incident confirmed the residents' suspicions of the Authority's collusion.. Some months ago Advocate Lynda Brayer, founder of St. Yves' Legal Society, had approached the High Court to protest againstIsrael's forced transfer of the Jahalin Bedouin from Ma'ale Adumim to the outskirts of Abu Dis. She had pointed out that Israel was transferring the Jahalin from an area under full Israeli control (Area C, according to the jargon of the Oslo agreementsin Oslo terminology) to an area under Palestinian civil control but under Israeli control for security matters (Area B). She argued that this violated the Oslo agreements.

The High Court askrequired the Israeli Civil Administration to respond to Brayer's contention. The Civil Administration then presented a startling, new fact, which undermined Brayer's legal claim. The defense. Under pressure, the Administration produced a secret amendment to the Oslo accords signed by Israel's, signed by Israeli General Ilan Biran and Palestinian Colonel Abdel Razeq Yihya in January 1996. The secret clause converts from 'B' to 'C' the category of the area in Abu Dis where Israel was transferring the Jahalin . The Palestinian Authority had basically agreed to relinquish control over this region. takes up the section of Abu Dis to which

Accepting Israel's plan for Greater Jerusalem carries one important corollary for the Palestinians: giving up East Jerusalem. Unfortunately, there are signs that the Authority has done just that. For there is no other reason it should be building Abu Dis up as an alternative capital.Israel was transferring the Jahalin, converting it from 'B' to 'C'! Thus the PA has agreed to relinquish control over the area.

If the PA accepts Israel's plan for Ma'aleh Adumim, it can kiss East Jerusalem goodbye. In fact it appears to have done so. Why else would it be building up Abu Dis as an alternative capital? This is a village of about 10,000 souls, lying three kilometers east of Jerusalem. The new Al-Quds?

Just recently, the Israelis evacuated the building of the civil administration in Abu Dis. The Authority converted it almost at onceRecently the Israelis evacuated the building of their Civil Administration in Abu Dis. The PA converted it into the office of the "governor" of Jerusalem.

"The PA presented this event as a major achievement," says Khader Shkirat, the director of the Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment. "But the Jahalin and the people of Abu Dis believe the PA sold out."

For another, the AuthorityIn addition the PA is constructing a huge public buildingedifice in Abu Dis, which people believe will house the Legislative Council, currently situated in Ramallah. If true, it fits in wellThat too would fit in with the plan to make Abu Dis the Palestinian capital.

Jamil Nasser denied that this was the case. is. He explained that buildings for the "governor" of Jerusalem existed not only in Abu Dis but in the villages of Bido and Ar-Ram as well. He was reluctant, however, to reveal the purpose of the new public building. He said we should contact Ahmed Qrei (Abu Ala), the speaker of big new edifice. the Legislative Council, whose native town is Abu Dis On the one hand, the Authority appears enraged aboutPA shows outrage over Har Homa. On the other, there is notary a whimper of protest against the new master plan for Ma'ale Adumim, which involveswould annex much more land, and whose political implications are much more dangerous. The new master plan Ma'ale Adumim stands in the way not onlNot only does the new master plan stand in the way of an independent Palestinian state, but prevents even limited autonomy and geographical continuity for the Palestinians. One can only conclude that the Authority wants to deflect attention from its own abject capitulation.it prevents geographical continuity and inhibits even limited autonomy. The PA's outrage over Har Homa makes little sense, therefore. Or is it all a show: an attempt to deflect the people's attention from the PA's abject surrender?


A Third Eviction for the Jahalin

The current camping site of the Jahalin Bedouin in Abu Dis villagesite of the Jahalin Bedouin in Abu Dis falls within the area that Israel plans to annex to Ma'ale Adumim. The tribe is thus in danger of being evicted for a third timethe third time in its recent history. First, aA secret agreement between Israel and the PA, which has recently come to light,. (See main article.) It converts the Jahalain�s current site in Abu Dis from 'Area B' to 'Area C', to pavepaving the way for Israel to annex it to Ma'ale Adumim.

Moreover, the Civil Administration refuses to give the Jahalin licenses to build permanent houses at their new site. They live in shacks scattered on a hill.

Just this March, Israel transferred the Jahalin to their present site from Ma'ale Adumim, to make way for an expansion of the settlement. Before this, Israel had evicted the Jahalin from the Negev in the 50s, and transferred them Israel transferred the Jahalin from Ma'ale Adumim to their present site, in order to free up the area for expanding the settlement. This was the second eviction. The first occurred in the 1950s, when Israel transferred them from the Negev to Ma'ale Adumim. Khader al-Alem, a member of the Palestinian Committee for the Defense of Land, told Challenge that several other Bedouin tribes in the area face eviction. He says Israel plans to resettle them in existing Palestinian villages, he says, in order to take over large tracts of desert land and annex them to Israeli settlements.


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