Palestinians alarmed by Israel settlement plan on Jerusalem airport

RAMALLAH, West Bank — Israel is selling the development of greater than 9,000 new settlement models on the land of Jerusalem airport, or what is called Qalandia Airport or Atarot Airport. The challenge is a part of a settlement plan that’s the largest of its variety within the West Bank in a long time.

The Jerusalem municipality is selling the challenge and executing the infrastructure works for the subsequent steps. The challenge is anticipated to chunk off Jerusalem International Airport, which was seized by Israel when it took management of the West Bank in 1967.

Neither the Hebrew media nor the Israeli authorities revealed new particulars concerning the challenge, apart from what was reported Oct. Four by the Israeli Channel 13 concerning the Jerusalem municipality selling the challenge. Channel 13 didn’t go into extra particulars.

Jerusalem International Airport is the one airport within the West Bank. It was established in 1920. Four years later, the British Mandate authorities began utilizing it for his or her planes. In 1936, it was opened to public flights, however with Israel’s management over it in 1967, Israeli airways used it for business and home flights to and from Jerusalem till they closed it completely in 2000, turning it into an deserted web site.

The new settlement challenge could be the most harmful challenge within the West Bank since its occupation, on the political and geographical stage. It falls inside the Jerusalem 2050 program.

Khalil Tufakji, head of the cartography division at Jerusalem’s Arab Studies Society, instructed Al-Monitor that Israel seeks to achieve three long-term strategic objectives via the brand new settlement challenge.

He defined, “The project aims to demolish the Jerusalem airport thereby destroying the Palestinians’ dream of seeing Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state. Meanwhile, Israel is opening a huge tunnel in the area to connect the planned settlement to the outposts outside the Jerusalem municipality. This is part of an Israeli plan known as the Greater Jerusalem Project that aims to control 10% of the West Bank.”

The third objective is the institution of an enormous settlement bloc within the northern space of ​​Jerusalem, separating town from the Palestinian communities, Tufakji stated. “Around 150,000 Palestinians residing in the area will be forced out of their homes and 150,000 Israelis will be brought into the city. This will create a demographic change in favor of Israel, which seeks to turn the city into 88% Israelis and 12% Palestinians,” he famous.

Tufakji identified that the settlement can be constructed on an space of ​​1,200 dunams (296 acres). He added, “The Israeli government has begun infrastructure works to impose a fait accompli, taking advantage of the favorable international circumstances. Israel sees Jerusalem as its capital and does not accept sharing it with the Palestinians.”

On Aug. 8, the Israeli group Peace Now revealed a report on the challenge. It defined that Israel believes “most of the [settlement] plan counts as state lands since the days of the British Mandate when an airport was built in it. This fact enables Israel to build the settlement without the need to confiscate lands from their Palestinian owners. At the same time, large parts of the land count as private land.”

It continued, “It should be noted that the plan aims to demolish several buildings and Palestinian housing units that have been built in the area over the years.”

“The plan was meant to sever the Palestinian continuity and become an Israeli enclave which would prevent Palestinian development of the most central and important metropolis in the future Palestinian state,” Peace Now famous. “This is a very dangerous plan which might bring a dangerous blow to the two-state solution,” it warned.

Peace Now famous that the Jerusalem airport settlement “will be the first new settlement in East Jerusalem since Netanyahu’s government built the Har Homa settlement” on Mount Abu Ghneim in Jerusalem in 1997. It referred to as on the Israeli authorities to take away the plan from its agenda instantly and shelve it.

Suhail Khaliliah, director of the Settlement Monitoring Unit on the Applied Research Institute ARIJ, a nongovernmental group, instructed Al-Monitor that the Jerusalem airport settlement challenge shouldn’t be new. The concept dates again to 2004, when the preliminary plans have been offered to him.

“Execution has been disrupted during the past years as a result of international pressures, but the idea of ​​the project has remained on the table of successive Israeli governments as it falls within the Greater Jerusalem project,” he stated.

He identified that the challenge shouldn’t be restricted to constructing housing models. “This project consolidates Israel’s control over Jerusalem in its new form under the Greater Jerusalem project. This settlement is an important part of that project from the north and northwest sides of the city of Jerusalem,” he added.

Khaliliah stated that Israel drew up plans for settlement tasks in Jerusalem years in the past, however now they’re being carried out according to the built-in settlement challenge. He defined, “This consists of three elements. The first is building settlement housing units. The second is building bypass streets around Jerusalem that has been witnessing development in the last decade. The third element is building industrial areas. The Jerusalem airport settlement will also include the Atarot industrial zone, which will be developed into a huge commercial industrial zone to attract settlers.” 

Khaliliah famous that the preliminary plan for the settlement consisted of constructing 10,000 housing models, to which one other 4,000 models might be added. “This means accommodating about 40,000 settlers in the first construction phase, leading to more than 60,000 settlers in the final phase. This will induce a geographical and demographic change in the city of Jerusalem,” he stated.

He warned that this settlement challenge is the newest Israeli blow to the two-state answer, mentioning that the Israeli settlement coverage has been dealing dozens of blows to the two-state answer because the Oslo Accord.

Khaliliah indicated that Israel started making ready the infrastructure for the challenge 4 years in the past. “It laid the foundation for the water and electricity networks, and is currently preparing to construct a tunnel. The engineering plans and construction details are ready,” he stated.

He concluded, “Starting work only requires a final decision to be issued by the Israeli Ministry of Interior and Housing. This is mostly a political decision. With the presence of a minister like Ayelet Shaked at the head of the Ministry of Interior, this decision is expected to be issued very soon.”

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