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Israel annexes four Ramallah villages

Palestinians to organise protests around the West Bank

Gulf News

Ramallah: The Israeli occupation authorities’ decision to annex four Palestinian villages from the Ramallah governorate and add them to Jerusalem looks set to spark a wave of protest.

The occupation authorities have ordered village officials to conduct their procedures, including legislative issues, through the Israeli Civil Affairs Coordination Office. The move is seen as a clear indication of Israeli annexation of communities that historically and geographically belong to Ramallah.

Murad Harfoush, who heads the local wing of the Palestinian Popular Resistance Committee, which opposes appeasement with Israel, says the annexation is the latest threat posed by the systematic seizure of Palestinian lands to increase the numbers of Israeli colonists in Palestinian neighbourhoods.

He said the occupation would confine the Palestinian residents of the four villages — Kharbatha Al Musbah, Beit Luqia, Beit Seira and Al Tira — to small residential cantons to force them to leave their homes, other properties and lands, and relocate elsewhere in the city of Ramallah.

Until now, the villages have been conducting their official procedures via the Palestinian Interior Ministry and other bodies that are part of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA). However, the Israelis are now ordering them to switch to the Israeli coordination office in Al Ram, near Occupied Jerusalem. This office reports directly to the Israeli Civil Administration, which has run the occupied West Bank on behalf of the Israeli government since Israel captured the territory in 1967.

Harfoush said this latest development in the systematic Israeli plan to take over Palestinian lands and properties would meet strong, steadfast resistance, and many protests had already been planned, mainly in Ramallah, but also for other areas of the West Bank.

“The residents of these villages will sue the Israeli occupation forces through international legal and human rights organisations to create massive pressure on Israeli to backtrack on its decision,” Harfoush told Gulf News.

He added: “Israel’s main aim is to weaken the PNA and expand the powers of the Israeli civil administration in the West Bank, in a bid to show that it has sovereign and undisputed control.”

Dr Layla Ghannam, Ramallah and Al Beirah Governor, says the PNA will never recognise the Israeli annexation of the villages and will do everything it can to get the decision reversed. She said the move was purely political and would have extremely negative consequences on the lives of the villagers.

West Bankers conduct their official procedures through the various Palestinian organisations, under the 1994 Oslo Accords, with the PNA coordinating with Israel over all legislative measures. Generally, in Area A, which includes the West Bank cities, Israel does not have a real presence and official matters are conducted via the PNA bodies. Israeli occupation forces are in control of Area B in all security affairs and fully control Area C, which comprises more than 60 per cent of the West Bank, in administrative and security matters.