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Settlement council plans to cut West Bank in half with 1 million dunum park

The plans were presented the day before Israel’s Ministry of Tourism announced its 2022 budget.

Jerusalem24 – A plan put forward by the Yesha Council, an umbrella organization representing illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank, would entail the seizure of more than 1 million dunums of Palestinian land and would effectively put an end to the possibility of a Palestinian state.

The project for a “national park” stretching from Jerusalem in the west to the Dead Sea in the east would effectively cut the West Bank into two separate south and north enclaves.

One of the stated goals of the Yesha Council is “To prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea,” according to their website.

According to Israel Hayom, which publicized details of the settlement council plan, the park would stretch from the settlement of Kokhav HaShahar to the northeast of Ramallah down to the Herodion area east of Bethlehem, over to Wadi Darajeh near the Dead Sea and up to Qasr Al-Yahud (the traditional baptismal site of Jesus) on the Jordan River.

The plan includes the establishment of tourist and information centers in the area, as well mobile restaurants and a network of hotels north of the Dead Sea.

Israel Hayom shared the plan the day before Israel’s Ministry of Tourism announced its budget for the year 2022. The budget allocates NIS 300 million to tourism infrastructure development, and specifically for development in the area between Jerusalem, the Dead Sea, and Bethlehem.

Applications for projects to be financed by the 2022 budget must be submitted by 14 July.

Yesha Council has not said whether it will submit its plans for consideration under this year’s budget.

Madeeha Al-A’raj of the National Office for the Defense of Land and Resistance to Settlement said in a weekly settlement activity report, “Although the scheme is still preliminary, it is considered strategic in its political content.”

The plan, which would effectively end the possibility of a two-state solution, would likely meet with resistance from within the Israeli government itself.

Al-A’raj added, “The settlement bloc is searching for partners to support the project, and to push the occupation government to adopt it.”

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