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Israel Remapped West Bank Land to Pave Way for Settlement Construction

Civil Administration project would allow government to use areas designated as 'state-owned land' to expand existing isolated settlements.

by Chaim Levinson       31 May 2016           Haaretz
Infographic of the areas remapped in 2015. Pictured: The settlement of Nokdim.Daniel Bar On, Haaretz

The Civil Administration re-mapped over 15,000 acres in the West Bank last year, which suggests an intention to embark on wide-scale settlement construction.
The mapping was done by a special team called “Blue Line,” working for the Civil Administration.
The project involves the examination of maps of areas designated as state lands last century.
The old maps are digitally scanned, making them more accurate.
In order to permit construction on land that was declared as state land before 1999, the Civil Administration is required to map it again.
Mapping over 15,000 acres is a significant increase in the rate of mapping carried out, in comparison to previous years. In 2014 only 5,000 acres were mapped, while in 2013 slightly over 3,000 acres were mapped.
Apparently, one of the objectives of the new mapping is to prevent Palestinians living in military fire zones from petitioning the High Court of Justice against the activity taking place near their homes.
The assumption is that if the mapping clarifies that the land is state land, Israel can argue that Palestinian houses were built on it after the area was designated as state land.
Judging by the distribution of these areas, one can assess where the state is intending to allow settlements to be built. Thus, 240 acres were mapped near Nokdim. Almost one acre is near the settlement of Gitit. Almost 11 mapped acres near Tarkumiya are not close to any existing settlement.
Settlement researcher Dror Etkes, who analyzed the data, told Haaretz that “it’s important to realize that these mapping efforts are directed almost exclusively deep into the West Bank and to settlements that are far from the settlement blocs, and to areas designated earlier by Israel as fire zones, even though it’s obvious that they comprise part of the pool of land that Israel is gradually handing over to settlements.”
Chaim Levinson
Haaretz Correspondent
Redrawing the Map of Israel - All Wrong
Ramallah is in Israel? And Umm al Fahm isn't? Those are a couple of the glaring errors in the new civics textbook meant to educate future generations of Israeli high school students.
Malkiel Blass May 23, 2016 1:32 AM
The central square of Umm al-Fahm.Tess Scheflan
Vast amounts of ink have been spilled recently over the new civics textbook, “To Be Citizens of Israel,” in which a valiant effort has been made to grapple with the difficult problem of teaching civics in high schools. The book has a number of achievements to its credit. It contains a variety of opinions and it deals with sensitive issues that civics teachers are reluctant to discuss.
The book has been subjected to criticism, but it has also earned praise. The Education Ministry did well to upload the book to the internet. However, the book desperately needs to be re-examined because it contains a number of serious and nearly indisputable factual errors that justify not printing it in its current edition until the mistakes are corrected. 
The chapter entitled “The Challenge of Shared Life in Israeli Society” attempts to address the national rift between the Jewish and the Arab citizens of Israel. A map showing the distribution of Arab locales in Israel in 2015 is presented in order to illustrate the rift. A brown square on the map indicates a Jewish town and a greenish square indicates an Arab town. The Green Line — the pre-1967 borders of Israel — is also shown on the map. This is fine and dandy but for some reason, the eight largest Palestinian urban centers beyond the Green Line are marked as Arab cities in the State of Israel: Jenin, Nablus, Tul Karm, Qalqilyah, Ramallah, Jericho, Bethlehem and Hebron. The map does not show the hundreds of Palestinian villages in the territories of Judea and Samaria but the city of Umm al-Fahm, which is in Israel, is shown as being located on the other side of the Green Line. Only two Jewish cities on the other side of the Green Line are shown: Ariel and Ma’aleh Adumim. Two larger Jewish cities, which are also east of the Green Line, Modi’in Ilit and Betar Ilit, are not on the map at all. 
What were the editors of the book aiming to teach Israel’s children with an inaccurate map to be used as the basis for a discussion of the reasons for the national rift? Have the eight Arab cities located in Area A, under the control of the Palestinian Authority, been “annexed” to the State of Israel? Has Umm al-Fahm been transferred to the Palestinian Authority? Were they trying to teach that Ariel and Ma’aleh Adumim are located inside Israel? Is this only a slip of the pen, an editorial glitch, or is there a strategic intention behind the map? The editors of the textbook thank the Reuven Chaikin Chair in Geostrategy at the University of Haifa, Prof. Arnon Soffer, and map drafter Noga Yoselevich for “updating and editing the map.” 
In the book, there are no answers to the questions that arise from the map and when civics teachers try to teach the map it will be difficult for them to explain to their inquisitive students that there is a mistake in the book. What will they be able to say? That the eight Arab cities are in fact not part of the State of Israel, though there is a part of Israeli society that it is interested in having this become the case in the future? 
The absurdity of the map is magnified by a clarification on the next page to the effect that “the chapter does not address relations between the State of Israel and the Palestinian Arabs who live in the territories of Judea and Samaria or in the Gaza Strip.” If that is the case, then is Ramallah, which is shown on the map as an Arab city in the State of Israel, a part of the national rift, or not? Does the book concern itself with the Arab cities as cities in Israel, or not? What are students supposed to learn from a book in which the information on a map is not only incorrect but also contradicts the text adjacent to that map?
It is possible to argue about many things in the book. It is possible to wonder why it does not refer at all to the Civil Administration (a military body) and the commander of the Israeli military forces in Judea and Samaria, which have assumed the role of the Knesset, serving as the lawmaker in the area since 1967. This is an important issue for understanding the concept of “being citizens in Israel,” especially for high schools students who will soon be inducted into the Israel Defense Forces. It is impermissible to mislead the students, certainly with regard to the facts. Depicting the major Palestinian cities on the map as though they were Arab cities in the State of Israel is a gross error. So is depicting the Arab city of Umm al-Fahm as though it were a Palestinian city in the territories. Mistakes like these must not appear in an official textbook issued by the State of Israel in 2016 and therefore this edition of the book must be withdrawn from circulation until the errors in it are corrected. 
The writer served as deputy attorney general from 2002 to 2012.
Malkiel Blass
Haaretz Contributor
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