Israel Remapped West Bank Land to Pave Way for Settlement Construction
Civil Administration project would allow government to use areas designated as 'state-owned land' to expand existing isolated settlements.
The Civil Administration re-mapped over 15,000 acres in the West Bank last year, which suggests an intention to embark on wide-scale settlement construction.
The mapping was done by a special team called “Blue Line,” working for the Civil Administration.
The project involves the examination of maps of areas designated as state lands last century.
The old maps are digitally scanned, making them more accurate.
In order to permit construction on land that was declared as state land before 1999, the Civil Administration is required to map it again.
Mapping over 15,000 acres is a significant increase in the rate of mapping carried out, in comparison to previous years. In 2014 only 5,000 acres were mapped, while in 2013 slightly over 3,000 acres were mapped.
Apparently, one of the objectives of the new mapping is to prevent Palestinians living in military fire zones from petitioning the High Court of Justice against the activity taking place near their homes.
The assumption is that if the mapping clarifies that the land is state land, Israel can argue that Palestinian houses were built on it after the area was designated as state land.
Judging by the distribution of these areas, one can assess where the state is intending to allow settlements to be built. Thus, 240 acres were mapped near Nokdim. Almost one acre is near the settlement of Gitit. Almost 11 mapped acres near Tarkumiya are not close to any existing settlement.
Settlement researcher Dror Etkes, who analyzed the data, told Haaretz that “it’s important to realize that these mapping efforts are directed almost exclusively deep into the West Bank and to settlements that are far from the settlement blocs, and to areas designated earlier by Israel as fire zones, even though it’s obvious that they comprise part of the pool of land that Israel is gradually handing over to settlements.”