Following extensive live-fire training conducted by Israeli forces in the north Jordan Valley, settlers of Ro’i seized control of 12 acres of land last week, east of Tubas.
The land now cultivated by the settlers was declared a closed military zone, and off-limits to Palestinians. earlier this month as part of routine military exercise taking place in the area. In the aftermath of military training, settlers were given possession of land, previously cultivated by neighboring Palestinian communities or otherwise used as grazing land.
© Salena T.
56% of the Jordan Valley has been declared closed military zone, and Israel regularly carries out demolitions in Palestinian communities located within those areas. Consequently, Palestinian communities are under duress to leave the area, in what in some cases may amount to the war crime of forcible population transfer.
Since its 1967 occupation, Israel has coveted the Jordan Valley for its economic potential, and not the least for its strategic development importance in forestalling a viable Palestinian State. In his May 2011 speech to the US Congress, Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu asserted that in any final status agreement which may be reached with Palestinians, Israel would retain control over the Jordan Valley.
In 2011, house demolitions and forced evictions in the Jordan Valley have increased fivefold, in comparison with 2010. 199 structures, 44% of which were family homes, have been demolished, displacing 401 people and dispersing entire communities. These constitute 40% of residential structures demolished, and 37% of people displaced in the OPT in 2011.
In the first five months of 2012, 116 structures were demolished in the Jordan Valley (39% of the total structures demolished in the West Bank), of which 39 were family homes, resulting in the displacement of 197 people (37% of the total number of people displaced in the West Bank), and adversely affecting the livelihood of a further 772 people (42% of the total number of people affected in the West Bank).
In July 2012 the parliamentary caucus for the annexation of Area C, headed by MK Miri Regev (Likud) tabled a draft bill calling for the de-jure annexation of the Jordan Valley, with the exception of areas under the nominal control of the Palestinian Authority (Areas A and B which constitute less than 13% of the Jordan Valley). The draft bill necessities the application of Israeli sovereignty to all Jewish territory and settlements in the Jordan Valley, referring to the Palestinian statehood initiative as the pretext for annexation at this time. The draft bill further cites the long standing position of Israeli governments that in any final status agreement signed with the Palestinian Authority, Jewish settlements will remain under Israeli sovereignty. Moreover, the draft bill cites Israeli government claims that in any final status agreement, the Jordan Valley and its Jewish settlements will remain under Israeli sovereignty. Deliberations on the draft bill will begin when the Israeli Parliament resumes business in September, following the summer hiatus.