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NGO reveals new 'Grand Jerusalem' plan
Published Tuesday 18/06/2013 (updated) 20/06/2013 13:27
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BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israel intends to appropriate land in Bethlehem to expand the Jerusalem municipal boundaries, a Palestinian NGO revealed Tuesday.

The Grand Jerusalem plan would see the confiscation of 22,500 dunhams (5,559 acres), Jad Ishaq, the executive manager of the Applied Research Institute - Jerusalem told Ma'an.

The land is being seized under Israel's Absentee Property Law, which converts land to the State of Israel if the original owner is deemed absent from the land.

West Bank land is particularly vulnerable to appropriation under this law, as though residents remain on their land, not having a Jerusalem ID card places their status as "absent."

The land or property is then placed under the purview of Israel's Custodian of Absentee Property, which Ishaq notes is in contravention of international law.

Israel's Supreme Court approved the confiscation in September. The lands were placed under the Jerusalem 2020 plan in 2005, earmarked as "green" for Israeli development.

Ishaq says the plan will turn the area into a "human warehouse," forcing residents into more confined spaces.

The goal, he said, is further isolate Jerusalem from Bethlehem and create an expansive "settlement band" around the Holy City.

ARIJ called on the Palestinian Authority to pressure the international community and the European Union into action against the plan.

"Tell the world how dangerous this scheme is; it is the biggest land robbery," Ishaq said.

The areas where the land will be taken are Khirbet al-Mazmouriya, Khilet al-Ribway, Wad Saleh, Wad Luqa, Jabal Skhour, Wad Al-Jamal, Jroun al-Humus, Cremisan and all the land built on the nearby Gilo settlement.

Bethlehem Governor Abdul Fattah Hamayel said the plan was a "clear step beyond all international law and rights," and accused Israel's judiciary of bias to "legalize what is best for them [Israelis] and cover up the crimes against Palestinians."

The revelation follows remarks made by Israeli MK Naftali Bennett who said the idea of Palestinian state had reached a "dead end," and that the state of Palestine never existed.

The PLO and international community has repeatedly called on Israel to halt its settlement expansion campaign to give both sides the opportunity to revive long-stalled negotiations.

PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat said Monday that recent statements by Israeli officials showed clearly that "Israel officially rejects the two-state solution based on the pre-1967 borders."

"This is clearly part and parcel of an Israeli plan to foil any possibility to establish a Palestinian state. They plan to annex Jerusalem and change the status quo in the city in addition to plans to annex the Jordan valley and other vast areas of the occupied Palestinian state," the PLO official said in a statement.

Israel occupied and annexed East Jerusalem in 1967, a move not recognized by the international community. Settlement building on occupied land and population transfer is considered a violation of international law.


This article was amended on June 20 2013 to correct the figure of dunhams set for appropriation from 22.500 to 22,500.
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1 ) Brian Cohen / Israel
18/06/2013 13:43
Just where is the supposed report? No quotes from the actual report in this article. No link. Nothing on the ARIJ website. Sounds very fishy, like it's not on Jerusalem city hall stationary, or that it's not really a city plan but somebody's private idea. Details would be nice.

2 ) Ben / USA
18/06/2013 15:50
I agree with Brian that there doesn't seem to be any evidence behind this article. It's a shame too, because I generally like Maan News' reporting.

3 ) Betz55 / USA
18/06/2013 17:56
Everyone now knows that Israel and their ilk will lie, cheat, steal, and fabricate false documents to get land and more land. Maan's reporting is always spot on. The Israelis are arrogant, ignorant bullies and cowards who break international law everyday. Of course they are going to try and take over J'lem. In 10 years Israel will not exist, the fools.

4 ) Libra - scales of justice / United Kingdom
19/06/2013 11:05
All of this is planned by the Zionists, chase the Palestinians away, then we can claim it is absent land. Then do not issue an identification card, and that land will also become ours. ISRAEL IS NOTHING BUT AN APARTHEID STATE. AND NAZI OCCUPIERS. A Good book to read with facts and photographs is 'Israel apartheid' by Bob White, available on Amazon. Read and be shocked at the real truth and not the propaganda that Israel dishes out to the media.

5 ) Brian Cohen / Israel
19/06/2013 14:24
Still nothing on the ARIJ website, and no sign that there is any truth to this story. Lots of standard angry lowbrow rhetoric from commenters #3 and 4, yet no sign of this report at all, giving more suspicion that the alleged grand plan does not exist. If Betz and Libra want any credibility, all they have to do is post a link to the ARIJ report. Otherwise, they're just another coupla "nyaa nyaa you are a nazeee" children unable to give facts to back up their (so far false) allegations.

6 ) Tom / USA
19/06/2013 19:46
Jad Ishaq is a scholar and a reliable source, as is ARIJ, with a long trustworthy track record. It is unlikely that he would punt on this story.

7 ) Brian Cohen / Israel
20/06/2013 01:46
Ok Tom, so show us the report. Please post a link. There is no other source with this story, and no evidence that the report exists. I don't know Ishaq, and if you know him or ARIJ, then please have them put it up on their website. That would put it in the public domain and allow everybody to check the veracity of the story. Otherwise, it's just another unsubstantiated and uncorroborated anti-Israel piece of misinformation.
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