The Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) has condemned the Israeli government for starting the construction of a railway that will cross occupied territory in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The three-phase project will see the railway established on 2,000 dunams (500 acres) of land, including some belonging to the villages Al-Zawia, Masha, Badia, Saratah, Kafr-Deek and Bruqin. Palestinian agricultural land, trees and water sources will be destroyed in the process.
“The Israeli occupation authorities plan to build 11 West Bank railways with a length of 475 km and 30 stations,” the PLO explained in a press release. Some of the stations will be in illegal settlements.
The Organisation detailed the ongoing abuses by the settler-colonial state and its repeated violations of international law in regards to future territory earmarked for a Palestinian state. “Israel has launched a comprehensive war on the Palestinian presence in Area C in order to grant the land to settlers, despite the UN Human Rights Council’s adoption of four resolutions condemning Israel’s policies in the 1967 war.”
Such resolutions, the PLO pointed out, confirmed the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, the establishment of an independent and sovereign State and the end of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem. “They also cover the right of the Palestinian people to permanent sovereignty over their natural resources on the 1967 borders.”
The PLO statement quoted Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who has promised to continue settlement building this year: “When we look back at the figures for 2017,” said Lieberman, “we approved the building of some 11,500 settlement units. In 2018, we agreed to build 2,700 settlement units, and I hope this momentum will continue.”
The proposed railway is likely to help in the building of more settlements. According to data released by the Israeli monitoring group Peace Now, Israel’s construction of settlement homes rose by 17 per cent in 2017, the first year of US President Donald Trump’s term. This was more than the annual average since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took office in 2009.