World Bank, the PA and Israel work together to confiscate Palestinian land for West Bank dump site 13Jun13 June 13, 2013

by Allison Deger     -   MONDOWEISS   -   10 June 2013

rammunThree West Bank villages are challenging Israeli orders to confiscate their agricultural fields, earmarked for a Palestinian Authority (PA) landfill funded by the German Development Bank (KfW). The proposed 14 million Euro sanitation facility is slated to become first official dump site in the heavily populated Ramallah-district, and the third in the region specifically for Palestinian-use. Yet unlike other landfills, which are in Area A and B, the new site is located in Area C of the West Bank, under Israeli security control.

Despite a dire need for sanitation facilities (according to World Bank and PA reports a majority of the West Bank waste is either dumped in illegal sites or burned), villagers affected by the land grab are claiming that Palestinian officials sought out the Israeli authorities to carryout the confiscation, after residents refused to sell their land. Dina Omar reported last week for al-Shabaka that the PA first made inroads to purchase the plots in questions from Palestinians in Rammun back in the 1990s, but refused due to poor environmental standards for the proposed dump. Now a decade later, confiscation orders finally arrived, but to the surprise of the residents, the decision came from Israeli officials.

Here’s Omar:

According to interviews with Rammuni villagers, they have long been courted with purchase offers. In the late 1990’s the landowners were approached by KfW and the Joint Council of Solid Waste Management-Ramallah and Al-Bireh. Between 1996 and 2007 the landowners were offered generous sums of money to sell or lease the land. In 2011 KfW representatives had multiple meetings and consultations with families in Rammun encouraging them to lease their land for the proposed project. The offer and subsequent confiscation is styled as a 25-30 year “lease.” However, based on evidence from similar landfills built in the West Bank there is little to no indication that the land will ever be restored and used again to farm or build homes on in the future.

Rabah Thabata, a leading member of the committee against the landfill, even claimed in a recent interview that the PA at one stage threatened to confiscate the land by force. Thabata further claims that once the PA realized that the landowners were not going to sell or lease their lands, they relied on the Israelis to confiscate it, given that it falls in Area C under the Oslo Agreement, so as to proceed with the landfill.

On 5 May 2013 the people of Rammun were given final notice by the Israeli Civil Administration about the land grab. The notice left a small window of time to file complaints without any indication that the complaints would be entertained. The notice also disclosed that no money would be given to the landowners and the landfill would be built regardless.

After reading Omar’s article (who hails from Rammun) I did a little digging and found that the sanitation facility is part of overall PA development goals outlined in 2006, but originally stipulated in the Oslo Accords. A World Bank report issued in 2009 notes the PA program called to establish “three regional sanitary landfill sites to effectively service the entire West Bank.” The Bank was the primary donor for the northern and southern dumps already constructed. And KfW is listed as the backer for the central region landfill—the one to be constructed on the land taken from Rammun.

The report goes on to note the “Israeli Civil Administration has expressed interest in cooperating with the PA to implement the provision [construction of sanitation facilities].”

The Rammun dump is paradigmatic of the paradox of state-building to end the occupation, while still under occupation. When the project was initially derailed because villagers were unwilling to lose their cultivatable land, it was the Israeli civil administration that made the landfill possible with their sweeping legal tools to confiscate territory. So while the landfill will surely help the quality of life for many Palestinians the means through which it was achieved appears to have placed the PA in the odd position of asking the Israelis to assert occupation policies. How then can the PA function as a body to arbitrate an end to the occupation if its government projects are backed by the might of military code?

If you liked this article, please consider making a donation to Australians for Palestine by clicking on the PayPal link
Thank You.
Bookmark and Share

Add a Comment

required, use real name
required, will not be published
optional, your blog address