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Thursday May 12, 2011 15:49 by Kevin Murphy – 1 of International Middle East Media Center Editorial Group
A report from Israeli peace organisation Bt’ Selem was today released documenting the extensive abuse of power by the occupying Israeli military in the Jordan Valley and Dead Sea area of the West Bank. The area is the most natural resource dense part of the West Bank and is the main source of Palestinian water supply.
The report faults Israeli policy in the areas of water access, the extension of Israeli state land, the control and exploitation of natural resources and tourist sites in the area and the restriction of Palestinian movement.
The research found that 77.5 % of the land is now inaccessible to Palestinians. State land makes up the majority of this area at 53.4%, however it also includes “military firing zones” and “nature reserves”. Bt Selem notes in the document that there has been extensive Israeli settlement in the military firing zones and that two thirds of the nature reserves are also on military firing zones. Other areas included land seized for the separation barrier.
The report also noted the illegal exploitation of the natural resources of the area. Water supply has been diverted from Palestinian areas to Israeli settlements allowing settlers to enjoy year round farming and leading to serious water shortages elsewhere. 2.5 million Palestinians now have access to only two thirds of the water supply while 9,400 Israeli settlers enjoy the other third, the report states.
Similar exploitation of resources include the control and profiteering from tourist sites, including religious sites, and the granting of Israeli companies the rights to develop and sell Dead Sea minerals.
The report concluded that “Israel has instituted in this area a regime that intensively exploits its resources, to an extent greater than elsewhere in the West Bank, and which demonstrates its intension, de facto annexation of the Jordan Valley and the Northern Dead Sea area to the state of Israel.
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