- On February 1, 2009, the International Solidarity Movement
reported that Israel continues its E 1 area homes and infrastructure work
that includes linking its Ma'ale Adummim settlement with East Jerusalem
and other settlements around it. It said Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, while
in office, promised to expand E 1 development - the land northeast of Jerusalem,
west of Ma'ale Adummim comprising about 12 square kilometers, all of it
- On November 15, 2009, the International Middle East Media
Center reported that construction began in Ras al-Amud, Pisgat Ze'ev and
elsewhere in East Jerusalem as part of Israel's scheduled 3,000 unit project.
- On November 18, Al Jazeera headlined, "Israel moves
to expand settlement," saying approval was given to construct 900
housing units in East Jerusalem's Gilo settlement.
- Overall, Israel's E 1 Plan involves building about 15,000
new homes, a large industrial zone, hotels, other recreational facilities,
a police station, garbage dump and more to be shared by Occupied Jerusalem
and Ma'ale Adummim settlers.
- Israel's 121 West Bank/East Jerusalem official settlements,
another 100 so-called "unauthorized outposts," and 12 Israeli
(de facto settlement) neighborhoods annexed to Jerusalem's municipal area
are illegal under international law, including Fourth Geneva's Article
- "Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well
as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory
of the Occupied Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not,
are prohibited, regardless of the motive."
- In addition, UN Resolutions 446, 452, 465 and others
condemned Israel's settlement building by declaring they have "no
legal validity" to exist. Yet they do and keep expanding in defiance
of the law.
- B'Tselem is the Israeli Center for Human Rights in the
Occupied Territories. Bimkom, Planners for Planning Rights, helps communities
throughout Israel and the West Bank "in matters concerning home demolitions,
infrastructure and public services, local and neighborhood development
plans, as well as the separation barrier....to strengthen democracy and
human rights in the field of planning."
- In December 2009, they jointly produced a report titled,
"The establishment and expansion plans of the Ma'ale Adummim settlement:
Spatial and human rights implications."
- With 34,000 residents occupying 10,000 housing units,
Ma'ale Adummim is Israel's largest settlement in land area and third largest
in population (after Modi'in Illit and Beitar Illit). Expanding it will
separate East Jerusalem Palestinians from other West Bank cities and villages,
reduce any chance for a viable Palestinian state, and further confine them
to isolated cantons on the Territory's least valued land, giving Israel
unlimited control of the rest.
- In 1999, B'Tselem published "On the Way to Annexation"
explaining how Ma'ale Adummim's earlier development violated international
law by expropriating Palestinian land and expelling Jahalin tribe Bedouins.
After the Separation Wall construction began, the planned route leaves
Ma'ale Adummin and smaller adjacent settlements on the Israeli side, creating
a partition between the southern and northern West Bank sections. Additional
E 1 development since then seized more land illegally, demolished Palestinian
homes, and expelled their residents to more constricted areas.
- The present report has two main objectives:
- -- "to describe the spatial changes that have taken
place" since the first publication and how they affect Palestinian
human rights; and
- -- "to examine these changes in light of the history
of Ma'ale Adummim and the intentions that lead to its establishment."
- Recently revealed Israeli documents show that in 1974
the first Rabin government secretly decided to annex Ma'ale Adummim to
Jerusalem with no official announcement. Doing so, of course, is illegal.
In March 1975, 3,000 hectares of village lands were seized. Several years
earlier, the IDF commander declared most of these lands a closed military
zone. In 1977, another 194 hectares were taken for future use plus 200
expropriated for roads and infrastructure. In total, it comprises 73% of
Ma'ale Adummim's jurisdiction area. The rest is Israeli state property.
In 1991, the settlement attained city status, the first one to do so.
- Its expropriation procedure was unique. Until 1979, settlements
were established on land requisitioned by military order claiming these
communities would serve an important security function. Three times, Israel's
High Court concurred until it held (in 1979) that the Elon Moreh order
was illegal because it failed to meet that definition.
- Thereafter, declarations arbitrarily classified over
90,000 West Bank hectares as state land, most of it later included within
the jurisdictional boundaries of local and regional settlement councils.
The major Ma'ale Adummim expropriations occurred in 1975 and 1977 for military
needs, before the Elon Moreh ruling.
- "The difference between the two procedures relates
to their validity over time." Land requisition is temporary, but may
be repeatedly extended. It doesn't change ownership, just the temporary
right to use it. Payment is also offered, so, in fact, the landowner is
forced to "lease" the land to the state.
- In contrast, expropriation is permanent, switching ownership
from Palestinians to the state against the owner's will, even though payment
is offered that may be refused and often is to make a political statement.
- Israel expropriated land for Ma'ale Adummim to make it
an integral part of Jerusalem. Shortly after the 1967 war, the government
annexed West Bank land to expand the city's borders for demographic reasons,
"a mere" 7,000 hectares to avoid an adverse international reaction.
The order included large areas to the east and south to ensure Israeli
control of a strategic location, controlling passage between the northern
and southern parts of the West Bank to Jerusalem, Jordan and Jericho.
- The development planned residential neighborhoods and
an industrial zone with more land expropriated than needed for future use
and to make Ma'ale Adummim a Jerusalem suburb.
- In 1977, the Likud government recognized two former "work
camps" as civilian communities, Ma'ale Adummim and Ofra. The latter
set a precedent as an "unauthorized outpost." As the first northern
West Bank settlement, it broke "the barrier that blocked settlement
attempts in the heart of the Palestinian population" and established
events on the ground for dozens more to follow - illegal settlements and
outposts "in opposition to the stated official position of the government,"
only on paper to be ignored.
- Prior to the Elon Moreh ruling, the Israeli High Court
held that expropriating Occupied Territory private property for a security
or civilian settlement was prohibited under international law (the Hague
Convention), while temporary requisitioning was legal.
- International law states that an occupying power must
respect existing local legislation. Applicable Jordanian law allowed private
property expropriation if compensation was paid, provided it was for a
"public purpose," such as roads and public buildings. The statute
remains in effect.
- However, Israeli settlement development constitutes a
non-public purpose land grab. In a May 1980 position to the Israeli Cabinet,
attorney general and later Supreme Court Justice Yitzhak Zamir said:
- "It is not permissible to act under Jordanian Law
to expropriate land in Judea and Samaria."
- Pli'a Albeck, head of the State Attorney's Office civilian
division, held a similar position. Eyal Zamir, former Judea and Samaria
deputy legal advisor, summarized Israel's official policy that:
- "Expropriation of land for public purposes is not
prohibited. Three pre-conditions (must) exist: first, the acquisition is
made in accordance with the local law; second, the landlord is fully compensated;
and third, the acquisition is for a public purpose....It should be emphasized
that Israel is not expropriating land to establish settlements in the area."
- Nonetheless, Ma'ale Adummim was created in violation
of this policy, based on the 1974 inter-ministerial team's recommendations,
headed by the then-attorney general and later Supreme Court president,
Meir Shamgar, who said:
- "Regarding expropriation in Judia and Samaria, it
should be mentioned that international law generally denies the military
government the authority to expropriate land in occupied territories; however,
there is evidence supporting the position that it is permissible to expropriate
land for the needs of the local population upon payment of compensation."
Having previously done it for roads and public buildings, "it may
also be permissible to (do so) for an industrial zone....whose construction
is approved under the local planning and building laws."
- The justification was that factories would benefit Palestinians
as well as Jews. Yet, settlement development was intended that under international
and local law as well as High Court decisions at the time are illegal.
- Settlement planners claimed the expropriated land was
uncultivated, so Palestinians weren't harmed. According to architect Tommy
Leitersdorf, who prepared the first Ma'ale Adummim plan:
- "The state inherited it from Jordan....These were
state lands, state land proper. So, there was also a consensus (that) we
didn't take it from anybody."
- Israel's Civil Commission said:
- "In those years (1975 - 77), there was no procedure
for declaring state land, so, due to the doubt, land was expropriated even
though the land concerned was unregistered and not cultivated."
- Ignored was that local law stipulated that "uncultivated"
land could be owned by individuals. In villages under Jordanian rule, many
such areas were registered to Palestinians, not the state.
- After their land was seized, dozens of Palestinians filed
compensation claims with the Jordanian government that concluded that 78%
of the expropriated land was privately owned.
- Israel illegally designated the Ma'ale Adummim area arid,
abandoned, and uncultivated even though it earlier was declared a closed
military zone, off-limits to cultivation, and the Ministry of Construction
and Housing said it's:
- "in the Mediterranean flora area (where) the wadis
(valleys) are being cultivated....East of this area, on land that can still
be cultivated in rainy years, cultivation is done in accord with the Masha
(collective) ownership method....The more arid land is used for communal
- "Ma'ale Adummim was (thus) built in complete disregard"
of international and local law. The initially ordered 3,500 hectares were
increased to 4,800 to connect the area to Jerusalem's municipal borders.
It's now the largest land area settlement.
- Then in March 2009, a Change of Borders Commission recommended
a further 1,150 hectare increase by integrating the Qedar settlement, all
state lands lying between it and Ma'ale Adummim, and additional lands within
the enlarged city limits. The Commission ignored objections and the fact
that there's no justification or need for further expansion except to seize
more Palestinian land, sever the southern and northern West Bank sections,
and exacerbate the forced separation between East Jerusalem and the rest
of the West Bank toward eventually making the entire city Jewish.
- In 2005, a new master plan was prepared that doesn't
comply with Jordanian planning law, applicable to the West Bank. Statutory
documents are binding and open to the public to object. However, master
plans are unpublished and unavailable for public viewing.
- "....they define, in a general-outline manner, the
zoning of the area to which they apply and dictate its development. (In
addition), the public cannot object to them, so that the burden of hearing
public objections and considering them is avoided. Hence, master plans
often serve as a means to bypass the legal requirement (to) prevent any
involvement of the public - Palestinians in particular...."
- After a Civil Administration's Higher Planning Council
(HPC) hearing, its minutes showed plan's main objective is to facilitate
substantial population growth up to 103,000 residents. To accommodate it,
a new road system will be built connected to Israel's national network.
Also, an airstrip, rail line, exhibition center and garbage facility besides
everything in earlier plans.
- Ignored completely is Palestinian-owned land, enclaves
not part of Ma'ale Adummim's statutory outline plans, although they're
surrounded on all sides by the settlement's jurisdiction area. The idea
is to include them incrementally while continuing a policy of home demolitions
and forced expulsions.
- The Separation Wall is another issue. In April 2006,
the government amended its route 14 km east of the Green Line and 11 km
from Jerusalem's post-1967 border. It leaves most of Ma'ale Adummim's jurisdiction
area on the Israeli side, except for some desert lands east and south.
- The route will create a 6,400 hectare enclave which,
besides the settlements, includes the Palestinian a-Za'ayem village of
3,500 residents and 3,000 al-Ka'abaneh, a-Sawahrah and Jahalin tribe Bedouins.
The result will trap thousands of Palestinians in the "seam zone"
between the Wall and Green Line, making their lives a bureaucratic nightmare
requiring permits to live in their own homes and villages besides free
- The communities of al-Eizariyah, Abu Dis, 'Anata, and
as-Sawahrah ash-Sharqiya are also trapped between the "Jerusalem envelope"
western barrier and the eastern one in Ma'ale Adummim that impede their
development west or east. In addition, disrupting the existing road system
will hinder access to Ramallah in the north and Bethlehem in the south.
After the forced separation from Jerusalem, they're the only cities able
to supply vital services, including healthcare and administration.
- Harm to Palestinians
- Ma'ale Adummim's establishment and expansion violates
Palestinian rights three ways:
- -- individual Palestinians whose lands were seized and
then forcibly expelled from their residences;
- -- entire Palestinian communities unable to develop;
- -- "infringement of the collective right of the
Palestinian people to a viable state, with reasonable territorial contiguity."
- Even under the Civil Administration's narrow law interpretation
that only land cultivated for an extended time, past and present, is private
property, much of what was expropriated for Ma'ale Adummim is Palestinian
owned, especially where residential neighborhoods were built.
- Throughout the West Bank, settlement establishment and
expansions have meant land seizures and Palestinian expulsions. The result
has forced them into smaller more isolated areas, unable to expand for
- Because of its location and expansion plans, Ma'ale Adummim
impedes the Palestinians' right to self-determination "within the
framework of a viable state that enjoys reasonable territory contiguity."
- Its location lies at the West Bank's narrowest area,
covering about one-half of its total width. In addition, the surrounding
topography is hilly, especially in the north and south valleys. Thus, Ma'ale
Adummim creates a "physical and functional partition" between
the West Bank's northern and southern sections, splitting it into two cantons.
- Further development will exacerbate the problem by severing
East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank. Jewish neighborhoods will
surround the city on all sides, an ongoing process further affected by
the Separation Wall's construction.
- Summary and Conclusions
- Israel contends that Ma'ale Adummim's purpose is to serve
Jerusalem even though the area has been illegally occupied since 1967,
and international law prohibits an occupying power from exploiting the
territory for itself.
- After the 1967 war, the government considered annexing
the Ma'ale Adummim area entirely, but feared a harsh international reaction.
As a result, it's done it incrementally by expanding Jerusalem's municipal's
boundaries well beyond their limits.
- "In recent years, Israeli governments have taken
a number of measures to ensure that Ma'ale Adummim will be, for all practical
purposes, a functional and spatial part of Jerusalem" to seize as
much West Bank territory as possible, deny it to Palestinians, and prevent
their having a viable sovereign state. More than other settlements, Ma'ale
Adummim's development is key to this strategic purpose that includes seizing
all of East Jerusalem for exclusive Jewish use.
- In late December, that's precisely what Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu had in mind by announcing another 700 apartment expansion
in three East Jerusalem's settlements - Pisgat Zeev, Neve Ya'akov and Har
- More Palestinian land will be seized. Homes will be demolished,
their residents uprooted and displaced for the new project. Others will
follow as part of a process that won't stop until all East Jerusalem is
Jewish with Palestinians entirely excluded, including from the Dome of
the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount, Islam's third holiest
site. According to Israel's US ambassador, Michael Oren, Obama will exert
no pressure to stop it or on new settlement development to come.
- Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre
for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>email@example.com.
- Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and
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