Israeli Settler Groups Plan to Increase West Bank Settlers to 1 Million
Extremist organizations, with the backing of the Israeli government, are spearheading settlement projects that have triggered concern. Yossi Dagan, the self-proclaimed head of the Regional Council for West Bank Settlements, recently presented a bold plan to the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The plan seeks to exponentially increase the number of Jewish settlers in the northern West Bank from the current 170,205 to a staggering one million.
A comprehensive report by the Hebrew Ynet website detailed the plan, which encompasses the establishment of new “cities,” the creation of industrial zones, construction of a hospital, railways, and even an airport. The proposal envisions the expansion of illegal settlements into more urban-like settings, introducing modern infrastructure into what were previously considered remote areas.
This year alone, there has been a noticeable surge in settlement activities across the West Bank and occupied Jerusalem, coupled with an alarming rise in the approval of new settlement construction units. These developments coincide with an uptick in settler-led violations on the ground against Palestinian population.
The most controversial among these plans is the projected “Sha’ar Hashomron” settlement industrial park, intended to be established between Kafr Qasim, Ras al-Ain, and the illegal settlement of Ariel in the western West Bank. While Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank forms the foundation for this industrial park, its establishment is stirring controversy and allegations of annexation.
Experts and observers have expressed concerns over the implications of these plans. Khalil al-Tafakji, an authority in settlement affairs, believes that the convergence of the settlement program and conflict resolution efforts reflects a broad consensus among Zionist parties. These moves, he contends, are strategically designed to thwart any potential political settlement and solidify Israel’s control over the occupied territories.
Al-Tafakji’s analysis extends to the broader Israeli strategy, outlining the Allon and Smotrich plans to bring over one million Jewish settlers to the West Bank. The ultimate goal appears to be transforming Jerusalem into a unified capital under Israeli occupation, a shift that was previously pursued with less transparency but is now being carried out openly by the current right-wing government.
The exponential growth of Jewish settlers in the West Bank, from around 1990 to over 650,000, paints a stark picture of the changing reality on the ground. Al-Tafakji suggests that the Israeli plan aims to establish a network of settlements, effectively creating a state-like presence connected by bridges and bypass roads, thereby altering the landscape of the West Bank.
Ibrahim al-Hathlain, a settlement researcher, emphasizes that the aggressive settlement plans are aimed at enticing more Jewish settlers to move to the occupied West Bank. Al-Hathlain highlights that these developments are being advanced as a fait accompli, suggesting a strategic move by the Israeli government to gain control over the entirety of the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem within the next two years.
As tensions continue to escalate, calls for political pressure and international legal action have grown louder. Experts and advocates stress the need for coordinated efforts to halt these illegal settlement projects and the implications they pose for the rights of indigenous Palestinian people.