Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Atarot Settlement

The latest in Israeli building:
"Government bodies have been promoting a preliminary plan over the past few weeks to build a neighborhood of 11,000 units for the ultra-Orthodox near the East Jerusalem airport. The plan also calls for the construction of a tunnel under a Palestinian neighborhood to connect the new quarter to one of the settlements in the Beit El area east of Ramallah...

"The new neighborhood is to be built close to the separation fence near the Qalandiyah road block, which separates the Palestinian neighborhoods of north Jerusalem from Ramallah. If approved, it would be the largest building project over the Green Line in Jerusalem since the 1967 Six-Day War.

"The neighborhood, which will apparently be built on state or Jewish National Fund land would sit in the heart of one of the most crowded urban Palestinian areas in the West Bank."

"Over the Green Line," of course, means in the West Bank, on land that is not internationally recognized as part of Israel, and that I don't think Israel even claims. I don't have a good sense of the geography of this particular proposal, but it seems to fit into a pattern of encircling Arab East Jerusalem with Jewish neighborhoods which cut it off from other Arab territories and bolster Israel's diplomatic case for keeping the entire city in eventual final status negotiations. You see the same thing with Har Homa near Bethlehem.

Here's some added fun with this particular development:
"The plan proposes connecting the new neighborhood to the ultra-Orthodox settlement of Kokhav Yaakov east of Ramallah, which is at present outside the planned route of the separation fence. To this end, a tunnel a few hundred meters long would be dug beneath the Palestinian village of Aqab and under the separation fence."

Get this? They're planning to dig a tunnel under the Palestinians. I suppose that's better than just appropriating a chunk of the village for a security corridor, but it tells you how things go. This is in the narrow center of the West Bank. Last week the sherut I took from the airport dropped someone off in Alon, which is almost over to Jericho, a trip which took us by Maale Adumim. You can see a whole belt of Israeli development cutting the West Bank in half, most of which can be spun as just outer suburbs of Jerusalem thanks to the general dimensions of this part of the world.


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