Israel seizes more Arab land

FROM his hilltop enclave, Shlomo Kattan has a view of the future, and the view is of Israel, as far as the eye can see.

Mr Kattan is mayor of Alfe Menasheh, a sparkling Jewish settlement built on a rocky ridge about two miles inside the Israeli- occupied West Bank. Looking to the west, down across the coastal plain, he sees pink roofs sprawling either side of the old 'Green Line' that once marked the division between Israel and the West Bank lands captured in 1967.

Looking north, south and east Mr Kattan sees more Jewish settlements, crowding strategic hilltops. On the hillsides are Arab villages, clusters of tumble-down houses ringed by settler highways.

Yasser Arafat, chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, would like to believe that the Green Line is still there, and will soon mark out the western boundary of a Palestinian state.

Unlike Mr Kattan, however, Mr Arafat, confined to his Gaza enclave, cannot see what is happening on the ground.

The Oslo Declaration of Principles states that in the interim period of autonomy, before the final status of the land is discussed, the integrity of the West Bank and Gaza will be preserved. However, the evidence of building shows that Israel is using the interim period to ensure that Mr Arafat's future territory is too stunted to comprise a viable state.

The Israeli government has just endorsed a programme of new land seizures along the old Green Line running up to six miles into the West bank side. A tranch of the West Bank is being carved out either side of a so-called trans-Samaria highway, to create a corridor that one day will link Tel Aviv with Amman.

A flank of settlements extending up to 12 miles outside the centre of Jerusalem is being reinforced. A network of highways and tunnels connecting Jewish areas is also being built.

Before the Oslo accords were signed, the Israeli government controlled about 65 per cent of the land in the West Bank. Now, according to estimates of Palestinian geographers, it holds 73 per cent. The number of settlers living in the occupied territories may be as high as 140,000 - 12,000 more than last year.

While Israeli building has continued, new planning restrictions have been imposed by Israeli military authorities on Arab villages in the West Bank, stopping villagers from building on their own land. The villagers of Rasatiyeh cannot build outside an Israeli-imposed boundary around the built- up areas. The settlement of Alfe Menasheh is about to start constructing 845 houses on land near to Rasatiyeh, that the villagers say is theirs.

As the children of Rasatiyeh walk the three miles to their nearest school, they pass close enough to Alfe Menasheh to hear the settler children splashing in their new swimming pool.

Geographical logic suggests that Israel is planning to grant autonomy to Palestinians in the three so-called cantons based around Arab cities: Nablus to the north, Ramallah in the centre and Hebron to the south. A report prepared by the Arab Studies Centre in Jerusalem, based on information from Israeli military administrators, was presented 10 days ago to Mr Arafat.

The report shows that since the signing of the Oslo accords, a total of 16,750 acres of West Bank land has been confiscated by Israel, of which 1,885 acres have been built on while the rest is being held for future settlement.

In the same period, 14,111 fruit trees have been uprooted to make way for roads and new building. Six square miles of land have been confiscated and given over to quarries and four and a half square miles of land have been allocated for nature reserves.

The report also shows that inside annexed east Jerusalem, the equivalent of one square mile has been confiscated for new roads linking settlements. Plans are in place to confiscate 955 acres of land at settlements near the old Green Line and new building plans have been approved at Alfe Menasheh and other settlements.

In theory, all such settlement activity should trigger US aid penalties to Israel. But Washington has made no public criticism of the new settlements and has imposed only token penalties.

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
voicesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Life and Style
tech

Apple has been hit by complaints about the 1.1GB download

Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff
tv

News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife
film

Matt Smith is set to join cast of the Jane Austen classic - with a twist

Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC
tv

Much-loved cartoon character returns - without Sir David Jason

Arts and Entertainment
tv

Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me
tv

Actress to appear in second series of the hugely popular crime drama

Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
Life and Style
i100

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Data Analyst / Marketing Database Analyst

£24000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Business Analyst – 2 year fixed term contract – Kent – Circa £55k

£45000 - £55000 Per Annum 31 days holiday, pension, healthcare, annual bonus: ...

**SEN Primary Teacher Serf Unit **

£110 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Preston: We are looking for an experie...

Experienced Foundation Teacher

£100 - £222 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: We are currently recruiting f...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week