Israeli Sources stated Tuesday 28 August 2023 that the Israeli municipality and the so-called Israeli “Nature Authority” presented Plans to initiate a new settlement project in the occupied city of Jerusalem.
Two days ago, the Israeli municipality and the so-called Israeli “Nature Authority” suspended notices to confiscate tens of Palestinian-owned dunums of eastern lands of Al-Issawiya town in the northeast of Jerusalem, and Al-Tur town, to establish the “National Park” project on the lands of the two towns.
Israeli occupation planned in 2007 to implement this project, and in 2013, the “District Planning and Building Committee” of the Ministry of the Interior of Israeli Occupation approved the establishment of the “National Park” on the slopes of Al-Masharef Mount.
In 2014, the “Qatar Planning and Building Committee” decided not to implement the plan till the Israeli occupation municipality and the “Nature Authority” provided the needs of Palestinian people from schools, kindergartens, homes, and health centers in Al-Tur and Al-Issawiya.
However, the Israeli occupation municipality notified dozens of Palestinian dunums in the two towns to be confiscated, in preparation for implementing the project and establishing the park.
Israeli confiscation of Palestinian lands
Hani Al-Issawi, a member of the Committee for the Defense of Al-Issawiya Lands said: “Israeli occupation municipality has been planning for many years to establish this park on the eastern slopes of the towns of Al-Issawiya and Al-Tur, and Palestinians submitted several objections to the District Committee, and it was frozen, but we were surprised by the suspension of new notifications on the targeted lands.”
He explained that the park extends over an area of about 730 Palestinian dunums on the northeastern slopes of Al-Masharif Mount, on the borders of Al-Issawiya and Al-Tur lands, in an attempt to make the area empty in order to connect the “Ma’ale Adumim” settlement, east of Jerusalem, with the tunnel street area near the Hebrew University.
In previous years, Israeli occupation forces razed Palestinian lands in Al-Issawiya town, which were planted with trees, and they prevented their owners from accessing their lands.
According to the Adalah Center for Human Rights, the lands on which the Israeli plan will be implemented are Palestinian lands occupied since 1967.
This is a blatant contradiction with international humanitarian law, which prohibits making fundamental changes on the occupied lands, and requires that the lands be used for the benefit of the local Palestinian population in the region.
The Dangers of Project
The “National Park” project is a disaster for the two towns; it encircles and besieges them, limits their future development, and prevents any solution to the housing crisis and urban expansion. Moreover, it restricts the Jerusalemite neighborhoods to settlement blocs.
According to the plan, the park aims to connect the Hebrew University in the west with the main street of the “Ma’ale Adumim” settlement in the east, and the town of Al-Tur in the south to Al-Issawiya in the north.
Al-Issawi warned of the dangers of the project on the two towns, stressing that implementing the project prevents the possibility of urban expansion in the future, and prevents the geographical contiguity between the Arab neighborhoods and towns surrounding Jerusalem, in addition to linking part of the (E1) settlement scheme east of the city with the targeted area.
He pointed out that Al-Issawiya town suffers from a severe shortage of spaces allocated for construction and housing, due to Israeli institutions which surround the town on all sides by settlements.
This targeted land is in an important geographical location, as it is the main gateway through which the settlement enclave of “Ma’ale Adumim” will be connected with the city of Jerusalem.
Till 2030, Al-Tur town needs more than 1,700 additional dunums, while Al-Issawiya needs more than 1,100 additional dunums in its current area.
In order to confront the “National Park” plan, a member of the Issawiya Lands Defense Committee confirms that Palestinians will submit objections to the project, and will do everything they can to stop it, as happened previously, in addition to their popular movement.