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Israel building road linking settlements ahead of West Bank annexation, report says

An aerial view shows a bridge under construction as part of The American Road, an Israeli ring road that is being built through East Jerusalem al-Quds. The construction is in Sur Baher, a Palestinian neighborhood of East Jerusalem al-Quds, on May 10, 2020. (Photo by Reuters)

A new report shows that days ahead of Israel’s annexation of the occupied West Bank, the regime is busy constructing a major new ring road for Jerusalem al-Quds that creates yet another obstacle to Palestinians' hopes for making the eastern sector of the city the capital of their future state.

In an exclusive report, citing an unnamed Jerusalem municipality official, Reuters said on Monday that the bypass, called The American Road, will connect those Jewish settlements in the West Bank that are situated north and south of the city.

It added that central and southern sections of the road were already being constructed and that bids for the northernmost part of the road would be issued toward the end of the year, at a projected cost of $187 million.

The whole project is forecast to cost more than a quarter of a billion dollars, it further said.

In the Six-Day War in 1967, the Israeli regime captured and annexed East Jerusalem al-Quds, in a move that has never won international recognition, along with the West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip.

Back in late 2017, US President Donald Trump enraged Palestinians by recognizing the whole Jerusalem al-Quds, both its eastern and western parts, as Israel’s “undivided capital,” a highly-provocative move he took in the face of historic Palestinian demands that the city’s eastern part serve as the capital of their future state.  

Furthermore, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is facing a number of criminal indictments, has repeatedly said that he would commence cabinet-level discussions for annexing more areas in the West Bank on July 1, in accordance with Trump’s peace scheme, further infuriating Palestinians.

The American president officially unveiled his much-condemned Middle East plan, the so-called deal of the century, in January at the White House with Netanyahu on his side, while Palestinian representatives were not invited.

The proposal, which has already been categorically rejected and condemned by Palestinians, largely gives in to Israel’s demands while creating a Palestinian state with limited control over its own security and borders, enshrining the occupied Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s “capital” and allowing the regime to annex settlements in the West Bank and the Jordan Valley.

According to Trump’s scheme, the future Palestinian state will consist of scattered lands linked together via bridges and tunnels, and furthermore, it will also be demilitarized, meaning that it will be subject to Israeli control over its security.

The American Road, according to Israeli officials, will ease traffic congestion for both Israeli settlers and Palestinians living in the area, the Reuters’ report added.

However, Palestinians say the new road, which will run for more than eight kilometres, will first and foremost benefit Israeli settlers, and it will further undermine the feasibility of East Jerusalem al-Quds as the capital of their future state they seek in the occupied West Bank and the blockaded Gaza Strip.

“This project cuts off Palestinian neighborhoods within the city from one another,” Reuters quoted Fadi al-Hidmi, the Palestinian Minister of Jerusalem Affairs, as saying.

The American Road was part of Israel’s “illegal” ring road project, which “surrounds occupied East Jerusalem [al-Quds] to further connect Israeli settlements and sever the occupied Palestinian capital from the rest of the West Bank,” he added.

The Israeli settlements in the West Bank have mushroomed during the regime’s successive administrations since the aftermath of the 1967 War. Currently, more than 400,000 Israelis live in settler units there, with another 200,000 in East Jerusalem al-Quds. Palestinians say these increasing settlements make a future state unviable.

“What we are seeing here is, again, the seamless integration of the northern West Bank, East Jerusalem under sole Israeli control, and the southern West Bank for the purposes of the settlers,” said Daniel Seidemann, an Israeli lawyer who specializes in the geopolitics of Jerusalem.

“That is the motivation, and the fact that it will benefit a Palestinian East Jerusalemite somewhat is collateral spinoff, but not more than that,” Reuters further quoted him as saying.

On Saturday, Mustafa Barghouti, the secretary general of the Palestinian National Initiative (PNI), strongly condemned the Israeli regime’s controversial plans to annex large parts of the occupied West Bank, saying such a move would break up Palestinian territories into 224 partitioned pieces of land.

“The annexation plan also means the end of two illusions — the first is the wagering on the US as a mediator of the so-called peace and the second is the possibility of reaching a compromise with the Zionist movement, which is sending an obvious message that it wants all Palestine and Jordan,” he added at the time.

In response to Trump’s controversial scheme and Israel’s annexation plans, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared the end of all agreements signed with Tel Aviv and Washington on May 19.

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