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Settlers vie for East Jerusalem

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  • ummyakoub
    The Christian Science Monitor 12 December 2003 Settlers vie for East Jerusalem: Construction began last week on a new Israeli settlement with 600 housing
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 3, 2004
      The Christian Science Monitor
      12 December 2003

      Settlers vie for East Jerusalem: Construction began last week on a
      new Israeli settlement with 600 housing units.

      By Ben Lynfield


      JERUSALEM - While attention is focused on the fate of far-flung West
      Bank settlement outposts, Israel has launched a major settlement
      thrust only a few miles from the Knesset in Jerusalem.

      The bulldozers started grinding in the Palestinian area of Jabal
      Mukaber last week to launch the largest settlement yet inside a
      Palestinian neighborhood.

      Nof Zahav, or Golden View, is to include 600 housing units, a hotel,
      and a synagogue/community center. It will split Jabal Mukaber and
      its more than 10,000 residents into two parts.

      A pro-settlement party in Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's coalition
      and critics alike say that Nof Zahav is a key link in an evolving
      chain of settlements being built inside Arab areas to establish
      Israeli domination over East Jerusalem and fragment it so it will be
      impossible to have a viable Palestinian capital there.

      "We break up Arab continuity and their claim to East Jerusalem by
      putting in isolated islands of Jewish presence in areas of Arab
      population," say Uri Bank, a leader of the pro-settlement Moledet
      party. "Then we definitely try to put these together to form our own
      continuity. It's just like Legos - you put the pieces out there and
      connect the dots. That is Zionism. That is the way the state of
      Israel was built. Our eventual goal is Jewish continuity in all of

      Israel annexed East Jerusalem after the 1967 Middle East war, but
      the international community views it as occupied territory. The US
      says Nof Zahav's construction is "inconsistent" with the peace
      blueprint known as the road map, which calls for a viable
      Palestinian state alongside a secure Israel.

      But Yuval Steinitz, chairman of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and
      Defense Committee, says, "It is our right and duty to build in
      Jerusalem." He adds: "We are not committed to the road map because
      the Palestinian prime minister is not fulfilling even its first
      commitment of dismantling terrorist groups."

      In Jabal Mukaber, Palestinians see the checkpoints set up on the
      neighborhood's main road and the clusters of policemen with assault
      rifles deployed to protect the construction as a preview of what
      lies ahead.

      "People will have to go through checkpoints to get to work, to get
      to school. There will be settlers here, full of hatred, waiting for
      the day we will leave and they will have a pure Jewish
      neighborhood," says Osama Zahaika, a Palestinian activist. He says
      that part of the area the settlers and municipality have earmarked
      for Nof Zahav is owned by his and other families, who are mounting a
      legal challenge.

      Other land was purchased by an Israeli contractor, who is working
      together with Elad, a settler group. Elad says the land for Nof
      Zahav was acquired legally and that it has no intention of evicting

      Dozens of Palestinians formed a human chain last week to prevent a
      bulldozer from reaching the disputed land. Some were clubbed by
      police, and one was treated in the hospital for his wounds.

      Since 1967, Jerusalem's neighborhoods were almost all segregated
      until Prime Minister Sharon spearheaded a drive into the Old City's
      Muslim quarter during the 1980s. At present, about 2000 Jews live in
      the Palestinian neighborhoods.

      "Nof Zahav is for people who have a special connection to
      Jerusalem," says Tzvi Goldwag, a spokesman for Elad. "The
      attractiveness of buying there is not so much the location but the
      view of the Old City, the City of David, and the Temple Mount," the
      holiest site in Judaism and site of Al Aqsa mosque, the
      third-holiest place in Islam. In recent years, Elad has settled 25
      families in what it refers to as the City of David in the Arab
      neighborhood of Silwan beneath the Old City walls. "I understand
      that Nof Zahav annoys them but in the City of David we live with
      them as neighbors and there are no fights. We're not best friends
      but we respect them and they respect us."

      But Moledet, the coalition partner that sponsors much of the East
      Jerusalem settlement drive, openly espouses an exodus of
      Palestinians from Jerusalem.

      It says this will reduce the number of terrorist attacks. "We have
      to make sure the number of Arabs in the city is brought down as much
      as possible. They should be relocated in other areas in Israel or
      abroad," says Mr. Bank. The more than 215,000 Palestinians in the
      city comprise roughly a third of its population. Sprawling Jewish
      settlements, considered suburbs by Israelis, have also been built in
      East Jerusalem territory outside the Palestinian neighborhoods on
      land expropriated from Palestinians.

      Bank adds, "Everything that goes on in East Jerusalem is a microcosm
      of what goes on in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza. The basis for all of
      this is that we've come home to our homeland. It was promised to the
      children of Israel. All these areas belong first and foremost, if
      not only, to the Jewish people."

      Jeff Halper, a left-wing activist, says that even if the links in
      the settlement chain seem disjointed for now, that will change with
      the construction of a major highway system adjoining East Jerusalem
      areas, part of which has already been built. "The road will open
      this whole part of the city to Jewish development," he says.

      Number of settlers rises 16 percent during Sharon's tenure

      By Haaretz Service - Dec 30, 2003


      The settler population has increased by 16 percent on average since
      Prime Minister Ariel was elected to office in February 2001,
      according to updated information released Tuesday by the Interior

      The rate of population growth in settlements was three times higher
      than in the Negev and Galilee regions.

      According to the report, there were more than 236,000 people living in
      settlements in the end of 2003.

      In some isolated settlements the population increased significantly:
      in the Gaza Strip settlement of Kfar Darom, the population increased
      by 52 percent over the past three years; the population of Netzarim
      grew by 24 percent during the same period of time; the number of
      settlers in the West Bank settlement of Tapuah, near Nablus, grew by
      50 percent and in Yitzhar – by 30 percent.

      In August this year Haaretz released Interior Ministry
      data according to which more than half of the 145 settlements in the
      West Bank and Gaza Strip grew by more than the 3 percent natural
      growth rate, while 30 settlements recorded an overall drop in

      A further 30 settlements grew, but by less than the natural growth
      rate, according to the ministry data.

      The figures showed that growth at 76 settlements was higher than the
      natural growth rate, but that there was negative internal migration
      throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip settlements.

      The areas worst affected by negative or low growth rate were the
      Jordan Valley, the northern West Bank and the Megilot area, north
      east of Jerusalem.

      The ultra-Orthodox towns of Immanuel and Ma'aleh Amos posted a
      negative growth rate of 6 percent and 9 percent respectively,
      compared to the 27 percent growth of Kochav Yaakov, also an ultra-
      Orthodox settlement.

      There was also a significant rise in the number of "ideological"
      settlements, deep in the heart of Palestinian territory. Yitzhar grew
      by 15.4 percent, Revava by 11.2 percent and Shavei Shomron by 9.8
      percent - all way above the 5.75 percent average growth in the West



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