RAMALLAH: Senior Palestinian official sources have accused the Israeli government of speeding up settlement activities in the West Bank to harvest the votes of right-wing parties in the lead-up to Israeli parliamentary elections on Nov. 1.
Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s caretaker government has stepped up plans to colonize Palestinian land and build hundreds of other settlement units, they said.
Ghassan Daglas, director of settlement affairs in the northern West Bank affiliated with the Palestinian Presidency Office, told Arab News: “It is clear that Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid believes that his access to power and the success of his party in the upcoming elections comes at the expense of confiscating Palestinian land and blood.”
“From a war on Gaza to murder in Nablus . . . to the confiscation of Palestinian lands and the approval of the establishment of settlements . . . we do not know what his next steps will be in this direction.”
Daglas said that Lapid had accelerated the implementation of settlement plans due to the approaching Israeli elections.
“After the Israeli leaders classified the settlements between a strategic settlement and an isolated one, their policy has now become to build a settlement between each settlement and to encircle the Palestinian cities and isolate them with a settlement belt that extends geographically and cuts off their geographical contiguity,” he said.
Israeli settlement construction on Palestinian land in the West Bank, including Jerusalem, has increased dramatically under the recently dissolved Israeli coalition government and reached 62 percent compared to the previous Benjamin Netanyahu leadership.
Settlement activity across the West Bank flourished during former US President Donald Trump’s time in power, even though it was considered illegal under international law and threatened the two-state solution for Palestinians to establish an independent state based on the 1967 borders.
The Israeli settlement in the Palestinian Territories is a program approved by all Israeli governments, as they look forward to reaching 1 million settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem by 2025.
The current number is 650,000 in the West Bank and 150,000 in East Jerusalem, living in 160 settlements and 126 outposts on a built-up area that constitutes 1.6 percent of the total area of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
On Saturday, the National Office for Defending the Land and Resisting Settlements said that Israeli authorities recently approved a plan to establish a new settlement on 259 dunums of Palestinian land belonging to the town of Deir Istiya in the Salfit governorate.
The plan calls for the establishment of 381 settlement units in the new settlement and public buildings, open areas and streets to connect the new settlement with its outer perimeter, the National Office said in a report.
The new settlement is located in the middle of the settlements of “Revava” to the east and “Kiryat Netiavim” to the west. This indicates the intention of the occupation authorities to create a new settlement bloc that includes the three settlements in addition to the industrial settlement of “Burkan” in the south.
Salfit governorate, a population of 70,000 distributed among 19 localities, has experienced the expansion of settlements projects in the region since 1975, with extension plans focusing on linking the Palestinian coast to the Jordan Valley.
The strategic location of the governorate has made it a target for the Israeli occupation, which confiscated large areas of land with 24 settlement blocs surrounding Salfit — the largest of which is the “Ariel” settlement, inhabited by about 25,000 settlers.
It is the second-largest settlement in the West Bank after the settlement of “Maalem Adumim” on the outskirts of Jerusalem.
The towns and villages of Salfit governorate are undergoing hardship due to the practices of the occupation.
The Palesinians’ plight is made worse by escalation of the settlement rate, the racial isolation wall, and the environmental pollution resulting from the settlements’ waste, especially industrial areas, and the theft of agricultural land, groundwater sources, and obliteration of its historical and religious features, the report said.
It added that the occupation authorities were also accelerating the building of more settlement units in the Palestinian lands in Jordan Valley.
All indications confirm the existence of a new Israeli plan to promote and support settlements in the northern Jordan Valley as part of efforts to expel residents, implementing “a clear policy of ethnic cleansing and looting and stealing more lands and areas, especially in the village of Al-Farisiyah,” the report said.
According to sources from the National Office, the Israeli settlement committee has been harassing the residents of the village for more than a month, in addition to bulldozing the surrounding mountains and putting up advertisements for a project to establish a university for settlers, in addition to vital facilities such as parks and areas.
The Israeli army provides support to settlers, bulldozers destroy features of the mountains near Al-Farsiyah, and move the material to residential areas and close to their homes, the sources said.