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Palestinian expert: Israel seeks to change al-Quds demography through settlement construction

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The photo shows Imperial Hotel at al-Quds's Old City Jaffa Gate, which Israeli settlers are trying to take over and turn into a settlement. (Photo by Wafa news agency)

A Palestinian expert says Israel’s settlement projects in the occupied East al-Quds are aimed at changing the demography and the status quo of the city's borders, as Tel Aviv's expansionist policies on occupied Palestinian lands continue unabated with its illegal settlement activities going on ceaselessly.

Suheil Khalilieh, head of the Settlements Monitoring Department at the Applied Research Institute-Jerusalem (ARIJ) said on  Monday that Israel seeks to confiscate as much Palestinian land as possible to expand settlements in East al-Quds by taking advantage of the powers granted to the official in charge of the so-called Absentee Property Law, Palestine's official Wafa news agency reported.  

The Palestinian expert went on to say that this official, a right-wing settler who has control over a thousand properties in East al-Quds, has begun classifying the lands in order to seize them for settlement projects.

Khalilieh's comments came after a report by the Israeli daily Haaretz revealed earlier in the day that Tel Aviv plans to build several settlements in the occupied part of the holy city that would totally alter its character and identity.

He said the Israeli regime has designated many lands in East al-Quds as green areas and public parks in order to later change this classification and construct settlements on them, adding that most of these areas are in the occupied Old City of al-Quds.

The Palestinian expert further explained that the ownership of these lands will be immediately transferred to the settlement associations without the Palestinian owners being able to claim them back.

He also emphasized that Tel Aviv wants to redraw the borders of al-Quds, particularly the area around the Old City, in order to seize it and expel its rightful owners.

Khalilieh noted that this issue is totally political and that Israel is racing against time to create a fait accompli in East al-Quds that would give it a bigger presence in the occupied city. Pointing to several ongoing projects there, he stressed the importance of strengthening and sustaining the Palestinian presence in East al-Quds.

More than 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East al-Quds.

All Israeli settlements are illegal under international law as they are built on occupied land. The United Nations Security Council has condemned Israel’s settlement activities in the occupied territories in several resolutions.

Palestinians want the West Bank as part of a future independent Palestinian state with East al-Quds as its capital.     

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