"ISRAEL CONTROLS 60% OF WEST BANK: STUDY"
Palestine Report, February 20, 1995
"The Central Office for Palestinian Statistics in Lebanon reported last week that Israel has a total of 191 settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, with a combined population of 308,000 se ttlers.
"The study found that 131 of the settlements are in the West Bank, with a population of 137,000. The 42 settlements in East Jerusalem have a population of 165,000 and the 18 in the Gaza Strip have a population of about 6,000.
"The study estimates that Israel has controlled more than 60 percent of the West Bank since 1993, and, after the Oslo accords, made two major confiscations along the Green Line, one for 12 square km w est of Ramallah and another for 16 square km in the northern West Bank...."
On April 19, 1995 Phyllis Bennis on WBAI's Wake Up Call program cited statistics which indicated that the Israeli Knesset (parliament) approved plans to build 13,000 more settlement units in East Jer usalem and 33,000 new settlement units in the West Bank. At an average of 5 people per unit, the new construction would add 215,000 settlers to the current 308,000 in three years time, for a total o f more than half a million settlers in occupied Palestinian territory.
Ms. Bennis spoke of the deficiency of the Oslo accords in that they didn't address the vital issue of settlement building and she spoke of the increasing difficulty of removing Israeli settlers throu gh economic incentives as their numbers grow so high.
Last December, the people of Al-Khader, also bordered by Efrat, held a series of protests and prevented the appropriation of more of their land for an Efrat expansion. The settlement addition was moved to the land of the other Palestinian villages.
The villagers managed to stop the work of one bulldozer last week, despite a large military presence, but much of the work is being done at night.
An Israeli military official said last week that dozens of square kilometers of land in the West Bank will be expropriated for building roads for settlers. General Matan Vilna'i told the Israeli press that "there is no way out" of confiscating the land in preparation for Israeli military redeployment in the OPT."
"UNESCO has protested the digging of a tunnel ... which it says threaten[s] the old homes of the Old City, and said the excavation should be stopped immediately. [They also] criticized the secrecy with which the diggings were conducted, late at night without noisy electric equipment..."
"UNESCO said that digs near the Robinson Arch near the Wailing Wall were `unnecessary and shouldn't have been conducted,' and that the opening of a new gate at the Western Wall could only be politically inflammatory as well as architecturally dangerous. ..."
"The dig in question began in the Wailing Wall vicinity after the 1967 war, and then headed North along the Western Wall, which surrounds the Aqsa Mosque...Waqf head [Palestinian religious authority] Abdul Azim Salhab said Israeli excavations around and under Aqsa Mosque threatened the Mamluk schools and buildings and Ummayad structures in the area known as al-Khatuniya...."
"The Israeli tunnelling project has been financed by the Israeli Ministry of Religion, right-wing Israeli groups like the Western Wall Heritage Fund, and donations from abroad.
One day after the decision to suspend the confiscations, the Israeli ministerial construction and planning committee approved a draft to build 6,500 housing units over 620 acres of Palestinian East Jerusalem land. The project aims to create the `Har Homa' Jewish residential area amidst the village of Sur Baher, on the Abu Ghneim hill, south-east of Jerusalem. The Establishment quoted an Israeli Interior Ministry spokesperson who said that the freezing decision did not include the `Har Homa' area.
The neighborhood will become the eleventh Jewish settlement built in East Jerusalem since 1967. Under the guise of suspending the confiscation order, Land and Water says, Israel continues to implement its settlement plans for Greater Jerusalem.
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