Date: Sat, 11 Jul 98 10:24:33 CDT
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Rich Winkel)
Subject: ISRAEL: Settlement Report, July/August
/** headlines: 112.0 **/
** Topic: ISRAEL: Settlement Report, July/August **
** Written 4:32 PM Jul 10, 1998 by newsdesk in cdp:headlines **
/* Written 2:05 PM Jul 8, 1998 by email@example.com in mideast.levant */
Settlement Report -- July-August 19 ---------- */
An Israeli proposal to include unspecified Israeli settlements around
Jerusalem in an
umbrella municipality (UM) has been met with
almost universal criticism.
The new plan will invest Israeli civilian agencies with more extensive
powers over the development and expansion of settlements included in
the UM proposal. U.S. officials have termed the plan
this delicate stage of negotiations. The PLO's UN observer
rejected the Israeli action as a
concrete step toward the illegal
annexation of more occupied Palestinian lands to the already illegally
expanded Jerusalem municipality.
Israeli officials, however, insist that the proposal, important
details of which remain to be approved,
is entirely an internal
No one knows for sure whether or when an agreement will be signed on the long-delayed first and second redeployment of Israeli military forces in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as stipulated in the Oslo II and Hebron accords.
In early June, Palestinian leaders Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) and Ahmad
Quray (Abu Allah) signed the
American Initiative calling for an
Israeli redeployment from 13 percent of the West Bank. Reports in the
Israeli press suggest that the extent of the first and second
redeployments (as opposed to the third) is not among the outstanding
issues still under negotiation.
Haim Gwertzman, a resident of the West Bank settlement of Dolev and a
hydrologist at Hebrew University, is the foremost public authority in
Israel on the territorial dimensions of the redeployment proposals now
Gwertzman has more material than any other
Israeli, explains Yehuda Harel of the Third Way party, which is
part of Prime Minister Netanyahu's ruling coalition.
[Israel Defense Forces] has security information. Tahal [the water
planning authority] has information on water, YESHA [the settler
council] has settlement information, and the civil administration has
information about the Palestinian population. Haim Gwertzman has all
of this together.
According to an article in Ha'aretz on May 21, Harel asked Gwertzman to prepare maps outlining the geographical extent of a 9 to 10 percent and a 13 percent redeployment. Gwertzman's maps reflect the following priorities: Israel must retain the entire Jordan Valley, the Judean desert, the area around Jerusalem, and a buffer running east of the Green Line to the central mountain ridge, under which the Yarkon-Taninim aquifer flows; no dismantling of settlements; and no compromise of Israel's strategic military control of the territories, as outlined in the Security Interests map prepared by the IDF. (See Settlement Report, January 1998.)
What I wanted to resolve is how Israel could retain its interests
in the territories--security, water, settlements and Jerusalem--while
at the same time avoid controlling the Palestinian population,
After accounting for these priorities, the only areas remaining for transfer to Palestinian control necessarily affect some Israeli settlements. The settler council YESHA, to the extent it concedes the need for any redeployment, believes that areas of the Judean desert should be transferred to Palestinian control rather than lands near settlements in the northern and southern regions of the West Bank, the regions preferred for transfer by the IDF, Minister of Infrastructure Ariel Sharon, and Prime Minister Netanyahu himself.
When and if Area B becomes Area A, and thus under complete Palestinian security control as part of a final settlement, the settlements directly affected by the prospective redeployment will become Israeli-controlled enclaves surrounded by areas of Palestinian sovereignty. Palestinians, however, acknowledge that even during the period that Israel continues to retain security control of Area B and the access roads to the affected settlements, the security of these settlements will be impaired.
If a final-status agreement is reached, explains Gwertzman,
these settlements will not grow; rather, they will deteriorate. I
believe their long-term viability is in question.
The example of Netzarim in the Gaza Strip is most frequently recalled in this context. All travel from this isolated settlement proceeds under IDF escort.Yet the population of this isolated outpost has grown from 60 people to more than 200 in recent years.
According to Gwertzman, approximately 1,700 settlers living in 10 settlements would be affected by a 9 to 10 percent redeployment, out of a total of about 160,000 Israelis living in the 150 settlements in the West Bank.
The affected settlements are divided into two geographic areas. Between Jenin and Nablus lie the outposts of Kadim, Ganim, Sa Nur, Homesh, Yitzhar, and Bracha. South of Hebron are found Beit Hagai, Telem, Adura, and Neguhot (officially classified as a paramilitary outpost that has, however, been transformed into a religious seminary).
In the northern part of the West Bank, Israel would retain a small zone north of Jenin in order to separate it from the Green Line. There would be Palestinian territorial continuity from Jenin through Nablus. This northern Palestinian bloc would be contained in the south by the Trans-Samaria Highway, which is being expanded to accommodate the growing settlements in this region, as well as trade with Jordan, and is anchored by the settlement of Ariel.
The early-warning station maintained by the IDF atop Mt. Ebal, outside Nablus, would be affected by redeployment in this region, according to Gwertzman. IDF travel would be permitted along the road leading up to the warning station, but Palestinians could build alongside the road.
According to Dutch geographer Jan de Jong, however, the number of settlements and settlers affected by a 9 to 10 percent redeployment will be far fewer than suggested by Gwertzman, if only those settlements that will not have access to bypass roads are counted. Settlements such as Ganim, Kadim, Beit Hagai, Telem, and Adura are all served by existing bypass roads that will remain exclusively under Israeli control after the anticipated redeployment. The settlement of Tzorif, south of Kfar Etzion, however, will not have access to a bypass road. The population of these settlements is less than 1,100. (See map, page 5 and table, page 6.)
Regarding water, Gwertzman estimates that Israel would lose control of an additional 9 percent of the land that lies over the Yarkon-Taninim aquifer east of the Green Line, bringing the total amount of land over the aquifer transferred to 15 percent.
If Netanyahu's preferred option of a redeployment from 9 percent of the West Bank is implemented, Gwertzman estimates that approximately 86 percent of the West Bank's Palestinian population would live solely under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority (PA). The total would reach 93 percent if the Gaza Strip is included.
According to Gwertzman's calculations, today only 37 percent of the Palestinian population in the West Bank live under full PA control (Area A)--588,000 out of 1,561,000.
Gwertzman believes that a 13 percent pullback would affect approximately 9,000 Israeli settlers living in 18 settlements. De Jong, however, estimates that 2,000 settlers living in fewer than 10 settlements will be directly affected by redeployment.
In the Jenin-Nablus region, Gwertzman projects that a 13 percent pullback would add Mevo Dotan, Shavei Shomron, and Itamar to the list of affected settlements. In the Hebron area, Karmei Tsur and Otniel would be adversely affected.
In the 13 percent scenario, Israel would lose control of additional areas north of Jenin next to the Green Line, around the Israeli regions of Wadi Ara and Gilboa. Palestinian contiguity would extend from Nablus north to Jenin and northwest along certain points to the Green Line, almost to the Israeli Arab town of Umm al-Fahm. Palestinians would be awarded control in a buffer zone along the Green Line at a few points just north of Tulkarem. The Palestinians would also gain control of the southwest corner of the West Bank, up to the Green Line in the Lachish region, thereby providing contiguity with Hebron for a few isolated Palestinian villages.
Gwertzman believes that the central difference between a 9 percent and a 13 percent redeployment would be the effect on the Ramallah-area settlements of Bet El and Ofra. In the event of a 13 percent move, these two veteran outposts, established by leaders of the Gush Emmunim movement more than 20 years ago and still home to many, are destined to be enclaves, as is nearby Ateret.
Yehuda Harel strongly disagrees:
There will be a way to connect
Ofra to Israel by way of a road to the Jordan Valley, and while it is
more complicated, Beit El can be linked through a road bypassing
Ramallah to the southeast and continuing to Jerusalem. Beit El and
Ofra will remain part of Israel.
If Harel's standard of access to bypass roads is used to assess the impact of a 13 percent redeployment on Israeli settlements, only Mevo Dotan and Shavei Shomron need be added to the list of settlements isolated as a consequence of a 10 percent redeployment. Settlers themselves, however, recognize that any increased sense of isolation resulting from redeployment will tarnish, in the eyes of prospective settlers, the attraction of the affected settlements.
An additional 10 percent of the land over the Yarkon-Taninim aquifer would be transferred in the larger redeployment, bringing Palestinian control to one-quarter of the land over the vital aquifer. This transfer would involve a sector north of Karnei Shomron and up to Sal'it, in addition to the area above Tulkarem.
The Ba'al Hatzor early-warning station northeast of Ofra would be faced with the same situation as the one on Mt. Ebal unless access is assured from the Allon Road to the east. In fact, such a bypass road was recently completed. Extension of this route to Ofra is only a matter of adding 2 km to the road. The settlement of Shilo further to the north was recently linked to the Allon Road in this manner.
In terms of the Palestinian population, a 13 percent redeployment would enable 89 percent of West Bank Palestinians to live under full PA control--94.5 percent if Gaza is included.