Alwaght – Palestine’s Ramallah is the center of a region that in early 20th century took its current name. Before Palestine’s going under Britain’s mandate, Ramallah consisted of 5 villages and 3 tribes but then it became the center of a region that included 2 cities and 58 villages. After 1948, when the Zionist Israelis occupied the Palestinian territories, Ramallah became center of a district that belonged to Al-Quds (Jerusalem). It was finally occupied in 1967 by the Israelis like other parts of West Bank.
Geographically, Ramallah is located 16 kilometers north of Al-Quds. The city once served as a supply line for the Israelis who transferred weapons and other equipment to Al-Quds. Zionists used Ramallah to deploy forces across Palestine during the 1967 war.
Since late 20th century, the construction work boosted remarkably, linking Ramallah to Al-Quds, Nablus, and Yaffa, the oldest part of Tel Aviv. The expansion of the city over time has to do with planning of its municipality whose foundation dates back to 1908 on the one hand and refugees’ flooding of it after 1948 on the other hand. As of 1922, Ramallah population was 3,104, and this number increased to 4,286 in 1931. Over a decade after occupation of Palestine, the population that included a large number of the displaced Palestinians reached 14,759.
In 1953, nearly 2,580 Ramallah residents immigrated to the US. This immigration took place while the city’s population at the time was 4,500. The Palestinian immigrants in the US made successful people there, with many of them taking degrees in business, medical science, engineering, and law.
Ramallah’s current status
Presently, Ramallah has been administered by the Palestinian Authority, which serves under Mahmoud Abbas as its president. The unity government which was formed in 2014 is running West Bank. Many reports has been emerged about conservative relations of Abbas-influenced Palestinian government with the Israelis. Reuters news agency in early June reported visit to Ramallah of the Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon to propose to the Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hadmallah a set of plans for development to run peace process. The visit was said to be the first to be made by an Israeli minister since 2014.
“The measures include opening the Allenby Bridge border crossing between the West Bank and Jordan 24 hours a day, an increased number of building permits for Palestinians living in Area C of the West Bank, and further development of industrial zones near the West Bank cities of Jenin and Hebron (AL-KHALIL),” Reuters noted.
Before late May visit of the American President Donald Trump to Tel Aviv and then to Ramallah, the Israeli security cabinet approved what it called “trust-making” measures in relation to the Palestinians. But the Israeli attempts to allure the Palestinians into a deal using economic incentives did not work well. Yousef al-Mahmoudi, the spokesman to the Palestinian government, said that the Palestinian PM told the visiting Israeli minster that economic measures cannot stand alternative to a political settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as the Palestinians want to establish a state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, with East Al-Quds as its capital.
But these appeared to be simply showing measures to depict Tel Aviv as a peace seeker. Recent evidences show that the Israeli regime has been destroying homes and farm lands in Candilia village, located in West Bank between Al-Quds and Ramallah for the purpose of building news settlements there. The plan is part of a strategy for full Judaization of the areas between Al-Quds and Ramallah. The settlement project for the area targets some 1,100 new homes to the Israeli settlers.
The Israeli Haaretz daily reported that the new settlement is expected to block connection between the East Al-Quds and Ramallah. The project expands the settlements in Al-Quds to the east in a bid to link between Neve Yaakov and Viva Benjamin settlments, both located in east of the barrier. Yoav Galant, the Israeli housing minster, commented on the project, saying that they build settlements wherever is needed to address the housing sector shortage. Galant especially highlighted the priority for settlement building in Al-Quds vicinity. He further maintained that new projects will keep the Israelis in Al-Quds and so will stop their transition to Ma’ale Adumim and Modi’in-Maccabim-Re’ut settlements which are not in Al-Quds neighborhood.
Reactions to new projects
Britain, France, and Germany blasted the Israeli regime’s approval of the new settlement, calling it violating the international law. Palestinian Liberation Organization’s (PLO) leaders blasted the decision, saying that the project was blatantly turning a blind eye to the international community’s calls to halt the construction measures in the occupied Palestinian territories.
But protests do not appear viable in pressing Tel Aviv to cease its settlement projects as it prioritizes providing services to the settlers. The new settlement is the first project in 20 years built after an agreement between the Israeli regime and Palestinian Authority.
The US new administration’s support has been crucial in emboldening the Israelis to ramp up work on settlements. The announcement of the project launching comes not long time after the UN overwhelmingly passed a resolution condemning the Israeli construction of settlements.