The government and the Zionist Federation casually double the size of the Jordan Valley settlement project, to very little attention from Israelis or the international community. Israel’s de-facto annexation of the West Bank’s only bridge to the rest of the Middle East takes a giant leap.
The other day, Haaretz financial daily The Marker ran the following item:
The settlement department of the ZIonist Federation is pushing forward a new plan, set to be confirmed soon by the Agriculture Ministry, under which the agricultural areas allocated to the settlers [the reporter uses neutral mitayashvim, rather than the politically charged mitnachlim – DR] of the [Jordan] valley will grow from 35 dunams [~0.25 acres] to 80 dunums in the nearest of future – an overall addition of 130%. The water allocation for the valley farmers will also from 30k cubic meters to 51k cubic meters per year.
The settlement department said that this would allow the absorption of the second generation of the veteran settlers [mityashvim] of the Jordan valley and bringing in new families to the agricultural communities [yishuvim, rather than hitnachluyot]. The head of the settlement department, Yaron ben Ezra, said that the annual agricultural produce of the farmers of the Jordan Valley – not including Palestinian farmers – reached NIS 458m in 2010.
The report then goes on to wax poetic about how much recycled water the “farmers of the valley” are using. One rather awkward paragraph suddenly informs us that 21 hitnachluyot
, i.e. West Bank settlements, were set up in the valley since the Six Day war, but the entire piece so thoroughly depoliticised you would think the errant trivia par is talking about some other place. The Jerusalem Post, writing a day later
, was considerably more on the money (or maybe less on the money, more on the politics), stressing the controversial political status of the settlements and rather optimistically noting that the Jordan Valley’s future was as “uncertain” as that of the West Bank.
Naturally, this massive expansion – doubling the settlements in size overnight – is meant precisely to cement the future and ensure the Jordan Valley will remain forever under Israeli control. This does not bode well for those of us who still believe anyone has any intention of allowing a sovereign Palestinian state with control of its own borders and economy to appear here. But almost no one bothers pretending that anymore, so we were even spared pretences from the American Administration that they care / could do anything if they cared.
On top of that, the casual appearance of the doubling of the size of settlements in a such a strategically vital area in a financial daily rather than on the front pages of the newspapers teaches us a great deal about just how normalised the occupation of the valley has become in the Israeli mind. Earlier this month, I wrote here about a poll showing most Israelis simply didn’t know the valley was occupied territory; the lack of interest in this week’s use underlines and reaffirms that. The gargantuan bout of land grab is meant to cement Israel’s future hold on the ground in the valley; but it would seem that the cement on Israel’s de-facto annexation of “future Palestine’s” eastern border has settled in the Israeli minds long ago.