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Jabal Abu-Ghneim: The Most Dangerous Project in the History of Israeli Settlement Policy

Jabal Abu-Ghneim: The Most Dangerous Project in the History of Israeli Settlement Policy.  The hard-line Netanyahu government's decision to approve the building of a settlement neighborhood called "Har-Homa" on Palestinian land of Jabal Abu-Ghneim, constitutes a flagrant violation of international law, and has rendered a painful blow to the principles of the peace process. The dangerous decision threatens to turn the region back into the cycle of violence and conflict, ready to explode at any moment.

This is one of the biggest projects in the Israeli settlement history, as it will absorb at its first stages more than 30 thousand settlers, totaling 100 thousand settlers once it is completed.  The expropriation process of Jabal Abu-Ghneim began in the aftermath of the proposal submitted by "Mikore and Hatoura" Companies to the former finance minister Yitzhak Moda'ei in 1991. The proposal implied the establishment of a southern wall for Jerusalem comprising 8500 housing units.

In compliance with this proposal, former minister Modae'i took the necessary procedures to achieve this end. He announced the government's intention to confiscate 1850 dunums from its Palestinian owners from Beit-Sahour and Um-Tuba. He also endorsed, on his last day as Minster of Finance, the decision without waiting the opinion of the "objection committee" in this respect. The bitter struggle began between the Israeli settlement project on Abu-Ghneim and the owners of the land backed by the Palestinian people.

The project aims at tightening Israel control around the city of Jerusalem, and making it impossible to reach an accepted solution in the final status negotiations. The struggle against this project took many forms, including political and legal as well as popular protests. The struggle has widened to include regional and international dimensions. Nevertheless, the Netanyhau government still insists on going ahead with its ominous decision.

Jabal Abu-Ghneim lies southeast of the city of Jerusalem, at an altitude of 870m. above sea level. It is the highest point within the surrounding area where it overlooks the cities of Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Beit-Sahour and the villages of Um-Tuba and Sur-Baher. The forested area which includes the mountain has been declared as a "green area." Thus it is illegal to build on it. In 1991, Jabal Abu-Ghneim was confiscated and given "state land" status by the Israeli government. This is one of the ways the Israeli authorities resort to in order to expropriate land from its owners and build Jewish settlements.

Netanyahu's government took this decision at this time because the final status negotiations will start in the near future and it wants to impose the Israeli position of power on the negotiating table, disregarding the basis of the peace process and the world condemnation to Israeli settlement policy in general. Also, the first of the three further [troop] withdrawals from areas B and C would have begun.

Aims and Results of the Settling Project:

(Optional: for more information on Jewish settlements in Arab-controlled regions see The Har Homa Settlement and the Uprooting of Abu Ghnaim Forest-Applied Research Institute)

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