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Dec 20, 2014

Parallel Realities: Israeli Settlements and Palestinian Communities in the Jordan Valley (2012)


Introduction


The Palestinian Jordan Valley is the eastern section of the West Bank, running adjacent to the Jordan River. Starting at the Dead Sea and extending approximately 70 km north to the border with Israel, the Jordan Valley is approximately 15-20 kilometers wide and, at 1,700 square kilometers, covers around 28.5% of the West Bank. The rich agricultural land, temperate climate, and abundant water resources offer enormous agricultural, economic and political potential for the Palestinian people.

Palestine  West Bank A Bedouin camp in the Jordan Valley  Parallel Zero Photos  Bruno Zanzottera
A Bedouin camp in the Jordan Valley. Source: Bruno Zanzottera


However, this potential has been denied to the Palestinian citizens of the Jordan Valley by the policies of the Israeli military occupation and the continuing illegal expansion of Israel's civilian settlements. In fact, the first civilian settlements in the West Bank were built in the Jordan Valley. Throughout the years of occupation, the Israeli government began actively promoting the settlement enterprise by offering a number of far-reaching economic and social benefits to those Israelis that emigrated to the illegal settlements. Consequently, Jordan Valley settlements have grown at a steady rate, aided by governmental aid that expanded important settlement infrastructure and enriched many individual settlers. In 1993, the implementation of the Oslo Accords allowed Israel to strengthen its means of oppression in the region; the Oslo Accords designated 95% of the Jordan Valley as Area C, temporarily legitimizing full Israeli military and civil control for the inhabitants of the region.

Although there are currently 56,000 Palestinians and only 9,400 Israeli settlers in the Jordan Valley, the living standards of the latter group are vastly superior. While the Israeli settlers benefit from generous aid from the Israeli government, Palestinians are nearly completely prevented from any sort of development in 95% of the Jordan Valley. Consequently, neighboring Palestinian and Israeli settler communities provide a stark and telling juxtaposition that demonstrates the racial discrimination that guides Israeli policy in the Jordan Valley. By directly subsidizing settlements' growth, expansion, and development while completely prohibiting even the most basic of services to Palestinians, Israel has ensured that the Palestinians cannot overcome the discriminatory gap in the quality of life between the two populations.


This publication will examine how the various subsidies provided to settlements reinforce the numerous Israeli limitations placed on Palestinians living in the same area, creating a segregated, dichotomous population based on overt discrimination. MA'AN Development Center interviewed six Israeli settlers, including members of the Jordan Valley Regional Council as well as members of local municipalities, and 30 Palestinians, including members of village councils. Interviews were conducted from August 2011 to February 2012. This study is based on a number of specific case studies that are meant to highlight the inherent difference in Israeli policy towards the Palestinians and Israeli settlers in the Jordan Valley.

To read the full 2012 report by MA'AN Development Center click here: Parallel Realities: Israeli Settlements and Palestinian communities in the Jordan Valley.

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