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September 09 2013

Document confirms World Zionist Organization allocates land to settlers in Jordan valley | Haaretz

Document confirms World Zionist Organization allocates land to settlers in Jordan valley | Haaretz
http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/1.545856

An internal Civil Administration document confirms a Haaretz report that the World Zionist Organization has allocated to settlers in the Jordan Valley more than 5,000 dunams (1,235 acres) of private Palestinian land located east of the border fence, namely, between that fence and the actual border with the Kingdom of Jordan.

This area between the border fence and the actual border — the Jordan River — is a closed military zone that in some places is two kilometers wide. A military order prevents the Palestinian owners from accessing their lands in this area. On the other hand, Jewish settlers are allowed to farm the lands.

In January, Haaretz reported that under the aegis of this order, the WZO had allocated to settlers in the Jordan Valley over 5,000 dunams of private Palestinian lands. Following this report, the Civil Administration began to investigate how this situation had come about and how much land had been allocated in this manner.

The documents that have come into the possession of Haaretz indicate that following the June 1967 Six-Day War and after the border fence was completed, Palestinians continued to farm their lands located close to the border. But following a number of incidents in which Palestinian farmers in this area helped infiltrators to cross the border into Israeli-controlled territory, the entire area was declared a military zone. Several Palestinians who owned plots in the area submitted applications requesting permission to farm their lands; however, their requests were denied.

(...)
The Civil Administration subsequently signed three agreements with the WZO, allocating to the latter organization some 29,000 dunams (7,250 acres) for farming purposes. An examination conducted by the Civil Administration shows that a total of 8,565 dunams (2,116 acres) are cultivated beyond the border fence; of these, 4,765 dunams (1,177 acres) are Palestinian lands, 578 dunams (143 acres) are privately owned and another 3,222 dunams (796 acres) are state lands.

Discussions have recently been held in the Civil Administration and in the office of the coordinator of government activities in the territories on this matter. It is a complex legal issue, because the settlers farming these lands are not trespassers but are persons who were legally allocated the lands by the WZO. On the other hand, the lands also legally belong to their Palestinian owners. The coordinator of government activities in the territories, Maj. Gen. Eitan Dangot, has instructed that all Palestinians who request compensation for the lands they cannot farm should be compensated by the Civil Administration.

#Palestine #Israël #Jordanie

July 25 2013

Israel pushing ahead with grandiose West Bank railway plan, ignoring political borders By Chaim…

Israel pushing ahead with grandiose West Bank railway plan, ignoring political borders
By Chaim Levinson
Haaretz 25th of July 2013
http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/.premium-1.537737

The Civil Administration decided Wednesday to go ahead with its grandiose railway plan for the West Bank and open it up for public objections, after the Palestinian Authority refused Israel’s request to participate in the planning.

The program is being aggressively promoted by Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud). Some NIS 1 million has already been invested in the planning process. The plan, first made revealed by Haaretz, included 473 kilometers of rail with 30 stations on 11 lines, meant to connect all cities and regions within the West Bank and the West Bank with Jordan and Syria. Due of the West Bank’s hilly terrain, the plans include dozens of bridges and tunnels.

The railway plan, which is supposed to accommodate all populations living in the West Bank, completely ignores all current political borders. Initial discussions were held about 18 months ago. Even if the hundreds of billions of shekels needed to realize the plan are never found, the mere existence of the plan means that any construction program from now on will have to take the theoretical railway lines into account.

Today the Civil Administration discussed the details of the plan, presented by Alex Schmidt , who was hired by Israel Railways to planning the lines. “There are 11 tracks. The central line runs parallel to the route connecting Jenin, Nablus, Jerusalem’s outskirts, Hebron and Be’er Sheva. Another line runs along the Jordan Valley and connects to Jordan and Syria. There will also be latitudinal lines connecting the two main lines: a line between Nablus and the Adam Bridge, Tul Karm and Nablus, and Nablus and Rosh Ha’ayin; a line connecting the Allenby Bridge to Jerusalem and Ramallah; a line from Ramallah to Lod and Tel Aviv; a line connecting Kiryat Gat to Hebron; and another line in Gaza that will make it possible to connect Ramallah with the Gaza Strip using Israeli trains.”

In terms of the demand for railway services, Schmidt said: “We used the data provided by the Palestinian Bureau of Statistics. We got the number of residents who work in the industrial areas. We checked how many people use private vehicles compared to how many use public transportation. We also calculated population growth. We expect 12,000 people to use the mountain ridge line between Jerusalem and Ramallah during the morning rush hour, and 3,000 between Hebron and Beer Sheva at the same time. We estimate that 2035 will see 30 million train rides.”

During the discussion, it was revealed that the Civil Administration forwarded the plans to ask the Palestinian Authority asking for its input but that PA personnel refused the request. The issue was also raised at a meeting between the Civil Administration head and the director general of the PA’s Interior and Civil Affairs Ministry but to no avail. It was therefore decided to proceed without Palestinian input. Survey Staff Officer Eli Livni, who is also a member of the Supreme Planning Council in Judea and Samaria (and brother of Minister of Justice Tzipi Livni), asked if such a small area really required so many lines. Schmidt responded, saying “This is what reality on the ground requires considering the cities that have to be connected.” Committee member Benny Weil added “OK, let’s say you’re right about the mountain ridge. But the Jordan Valley?! There are hardly any buses traveling there today. Is there really a demand for trains?” Schmidt responded that “The mountain ridge line is for local passengers and commuters, whereas the valley line would serve tourists traveling to the Dead Sea, Eilat and the Sea of Galilee. In any case, it’s the last of our priorities.”

At the end of the discussion it was decided to publish the plan for submission in another 30 days, which means that the documents will now be made public so that reservations and comments may be submitted. Once these objections are discussed, the plan will be published for final validation, whereupon concrete discussions of each and every railway line will begin. Committee chairman Daniel Halimi said that he hopes that the Palestinians will cooperate this time. “From our perspective, publishing the plan for comment submission is an important step for including the public in the planning process.”

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