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U.N. school for Palestinians illegally built on Jewish property (WND photo)
JERUSALEM – Despite its history of friendly relations with Israel, the U.S. has been aiding Palestinian Authority construction in areas where the work could tilt the outcome of Mideast negotiations in favor of the Palestinians.
By aiding Palestinian construction of infrastructure in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem, the U.S. has effectively been helping the PA create facts on the ground that could push disputed neighborhoods toward becoming part of a Palestinian state, including areas where the land in question is wholly owned by Jews.
While the Obama administration has been demanding a complete halt to all Jewish construction in the West Bank and eastern sections of Jerusalem, the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, has been financing Palestinian infrastructure projects in those same territories. Some of the projects include the construction of PA municipal buildings as well as roads and other infrastructure.
Case and point are multiple towns in the West Bank in what is known as Area C – neighborhoods controlled by Israel. Last month the State Department inaugurated a USAID-funded Palestinian school in Beit Ijza, a West Bank neighborhood about five miles northwest of Jerusalem. The U.S. has also been aiding in multiple other West Bank areas with the construction of roads and municipal facilities.
Some of the U.S.-funded construction has been carried out by a company owned by the son of PA President Mahmoud Abbas.
While the U.S. assistance to the PA has been stepped up in recent months, USAID has been helping the Palestinians develop sections of Jerusalem for several years now, including on property owned by Jews.
The situation has been unfolding in the northern Jerusalem neighborhoods of Kfar Akeb, Qalandiya and Samir Amis, which are close to the Jewish neighborhoods of Neve Yaacov and Pisgat Zeev in Israel’s capital. Kfar Akeb, Qalandiya and Samir Amis are located entirely within the Jerusalem municipality. Over 100,000 Arabs live in those neighborhoods.
Jews lived in Kfar Akeb, Qalandiya and Samir Amis years before the establishment of Israel in 1948, but they were violently expelled during deadly Arab riots in 1929.
Jordan, together with other Arab countries, attacked Israel after its founding in 1948 and administered the three Jerusalem neighborhoods as well as all of eastern Jerusalem following an armistice agreement. In 1967, Jordan attacked again, and Israel liberated the entire city of Jerusalem in the Six-Day War. During the period of Jordanian control, some new construction took place, including in areas previously purchased by Jews.
A WND tour of the three Jerusalem neighborhoods found some surprising developments. Official PA logos and placards abound, including one glaring red street sign at the entrance to the neighborhoods warning Israelis to keep out.
Another official sign, in Kfar Akeb in Jerusalem, reads in English, “Ramallah-Jerusalem Road. This project is a gift form (sic) the American people to the Palestinian people in cooperation with the Palestinian Authority and PECDAR. 2007.” The sign bears the emblems of the American and PA governments and of the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID. The displays were not present during a previous WND tour of the neighborhoods in 2006.
Some local schools in the Jerusalem neighborhoods are officially run by the PA – some in conjunction with the U.N. – with many teachers drawing PA salaries. Civil disputes are usually settled not in Israeli courts but by the PA judicial system, although at times Israeli courts are used, depending on the matter.
Councils governed by Abbas’ Fatah organization oversee some municipal matters. USAID provides the PA funds for road and infrastructure projects.
Israeli security officials said the local Jerusalem police rarely operate in Kfar Akeb, Qalandiya and Samir Amis; instead security has been turned over to the Israel Defense Forces and Border Police, who work almost daily with PA security forces. The PA police operate in the Jerusalem neighborhoods in coordination with Israel.
Shmulik Ben Ruby, spokesman for the Jerusalem police, confirmed the arrangement.
“If there are fights between some local families, sometimes we involve the PA police to make peace between the families,” he told WND. “Yes, the PA police can operate in these neighborhoods in coordination with the IDF and Border Police.”
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Key land in Qalandiya and Kfar Akeb is owned by the Jewish National Fund, which over the years has allowed tens of thousands of Arabs to illegally squat on its land, resulting in the current Arab majority.
1991 photo of Shoafat shows region entirely forest land
The organization bought the land in the early 1920s using Jewish donor funds for the specific purpose of Jewish settlement.
But the JNF lands have been utilized for the illegal construction of dozens of Arab apartment buildings, a refugee camp and a U.N. school.
A previous WND tour of Qalandiya and Kfar Akeb found dozens of Arab apartment complexes, a Palestinian refugee camp and a U.N. school for Palestinians constructed on the land.
According to officials in Israel’s Housing Ministry, Arabs first constructed facilities illegally in Qalandiya and Kfar Akeb between 1948 and 1967, prior to the 1967 Six-Day War during which Israel retook control of the entire city of Jerusalem.
Qalandiya, still owned by JNF, came under the management of the Israeli government’s Land Authority in the late 1960s.
Israeli Housing Ministry officials say the bulk of illegal Arab construction in Qalandiya occurred in the past 20 years, with construction of several new Arab apartment complexes taking place in just the past two years.
1967 aerial photo of Qalandiya region
Neither the Israeli government nor JNF took any concrete measures to stop the illegal building, which continues today with at least one apartment complex in Qalandiya under construction.
Land in another Jerusalem’ neighborhood, Shoafat, which has an estimated value of $3 million, was also purchased by JNF in the early 1900s and fell under the management of the Israel Land Authority about 40 years ago. Much of the illegal Arab construction in Shoafat took place in the past 15 years, with some apartment complexes built as late as 2004.
In Qalandiya and Shoafat, Israel’s security fence cordons off the Arab sections of the JNF lands from the rest of Jewish Jerusalem.
Internal JNF documents obtained by WND outline illegal Arab construction on the Jewish-owned land. A December 2000 survey of Qalandiya summarized on JNF stationery and signed by a JNF worker states, “In a lot of the plots I find Arabs are living and building illegally and also working the JNF land without permission.”
The JNF survey goes on to document illegal construction of Arab apartment complexes and the U.N. school under the property management of Israel’s Land Authority.