Dozens of Palestinian families in Bedouin communities in the Jordan Valley have been ordered by the Israeli authorities to permanently vacate their land, according to local residents.
"Thirty families received military warrants on Thursday ordering them to vacate their land within eight days, effective as of Nov. 2," Mahdi Daraghmeh, a member of the Jordan Valley council, told Anadolu Agency. "The warrant calls for the evacuation of 60 structures in the Al-Maleh and Umm Aljamal areas in the northern part of the valley," he said.
According to Daraghmeh, 200 Palestinians including 45 women and 60 children, currently live in these areas.
On Wednesday, Israeli Housing Minister Yoav Galant said his ministry was developing a plan aimed at "strengthening Jewish communities in the Jordan Valley."
Under this plan, Galant said, the government "will transfer funds to Israeli cooperatives and agricultural villages in the Jordan Valley for every new [Jewish] family moving there." He added that the government also plans to launch a marketing campaign aimed at encouraging Jewish settlement in the region.
According to the 1993 Oslo Accords, "Area C" of the West Bank which includes the Jordan Valley, falls under full Israeli administrative and security control.
Roughly 6,000 Jewish settlers currently live in 21 Israeli settlements scattered across the Jordan Valley region. The Jewish state sees the strategic valley as a vital economic and security zone for its settlements and wants to keep the region under its firm control in any future peace deal with the Palestinians.
Palestinians, for their part, want the valley, a large and fertile strip of land that accounts for roughly one quarter of the West Bank, as part of a sought-for Palestinian state.
More than 10,000 Palestinians live in makeshift homes in the valley, as Israel has prohibited the construction of permanent structures in the area. Animal husbandry and farming constitute the main source of livelihood for most of the valley's inhabitants.
More than 600,000 Israelis live in settlements in the West Bank, including annexed East Jerusalem, which are seen as a major obstacle to peace between Israel and Palestinians. They live alongside some 3 million Palestinians.
After the 1967 war, Israel annexed East Jerusalem and deems the entire city its "indivisible and eternal capital," a status not recognized internationally. Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005 and it is now ruled by Hamas.
The international community regards all Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territories to be illegal and a major obstacle to Middle East peace. The area, captured by Israel in 1967, is not sovereign Israeli territory and Palestinians there are not Israeli citizens and do not have the right to vote. Palestinians accuse Israel of waging an aggressive campaign to "Judaize" the historic city with the aim of effacing its Arab and Islamic identity and driving out its Palestinian inhabitants.
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