A Palestinian expert has warned that the Israeli government intends to grab nearly a thousand acres of land in south Jerusalem and Bethlehem to implement its recently announced illegal settlement plan for the southern West Bank. Khalil Al-Tufkaji, a cartographer and expert on Israeli settlements at the Orient House institution, said on Sunday that, "The settlement scheme announced by the [Israeli] occupation to build a Jewish neighbourhood in south Jerusalem will take 950 acres of Palestinian land in the area, including land named as 'absentee property and state land', and other land belonging to the Orthodox Church."
The Israeli plan, he said, "will connect the settlement of Jabal Abu Ghoneim with the two settlements of Jafat Hamtos and Gilo, reaching the settlement which will be held on the territory of the town of Walaja in Bethlehem governorate." Mr Al-Tufkaji explained that the Israelis "will build five thousand housing units on this land, separating the cities of Bethlehem and Beit Sahour and Beit Jala, from the villages and towns of Jerusalem, namely Beit Safafa, Alshorfat and Ain Tuba and Sur Baher." He scoffed at the claim by the Israeli government that 1,700 housing units will be allocated to Palestinians in Beit Safafa, calling it "false and deceptive".