On Monday 13 June, a plan to establish a “national park”, including settlements, in the occupied West Bank, over an area of approximately million dunams (roughly ¼ of an acre) between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea, was revealed.
According to Israeli media, it is “an ambitious plan for the settlement of Judea and Samaria [i.e., the West Bank], which plans to change the face of the region, in particular from a political point of view.”
Palestinian sources fear that the plan, if approved, will end the possibility of establishing a Palestinian state, by further separating the centre and north of the West Bank.
The project starts from the Kokhav HaShahar settlement, east of Ramallah, and reaches east of the Gush Etzion settlement near the Dead Sea. It will cover half the area between occupied Jerusalem, or al-Quds as it is known in Arabic, and the Dead Sea.
The plan includes the establishment of tourist centres, hotels, restaurants, and an information centre.
The Israeli media has reported that the plan is not merely theoretical but is nevertheless still in its first stage. A strategic plan has completed, and the organising group is currently searching for partners to help develop the project.
Occupation authorities have issued several decisions to demolish the Palestinian village of Khan al-Ahmar in the area where the “park” is planned, though its destruction has been halted by international pressure.
Israeli and Palestinian sources estimate that there are approximately 650,000 settlers in the West Bank, including al-Quds, distributed across 164 settlements and 124 outposts.
International law considers the West Bank including al-Quds as occupied territory, and all settlement activities as illegal.