Settlers to Open Bypass Road near Bethlehem

BETHLEHEM, April 9, 2015 (WAFA) – Israeli settlers Thursday proceeded to open a bypass road near the illegal settlement outpost of ‘Sidi Bou’ez’ near the village of al-Khader, south of Bethlehem, according to local sources.

Tawfiq Abu Salah, head of the village council of al-Khader, told WAFA that settlers proceeded to raze a Palestinian owned land near the village, which is a prelude to open a new bypass road for settlers.

The settlers were nevertheless forced to stop their work by aggravated local residents, said Abu Salah. He noted that should the road be completed, more than 400 dunums of Palestinian land could be threatened with seizure, and that local farmers would be unable to access their lands in the area.

Bypass roads cater to the interests of Israeli settlers who, even before the outbreak of the Intifada (uprising), wanted to be able to commute to Israel and through the West Bank easily and safely, reports the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem. Bypass roads have also been viewed as a way of making settlements more attractive to prospective residents.

The idea of a bypass roads system, which enables access to settlements and travel between settlements without having to pass through Palestinian villages, was first raised during the settlement push in the late 1970s.

In the ‘Settlement Master Plan for 1983-1986,’ the chapter discussing roads stated that, “The road is the factor that motivates settlement in areas where settlement is important, and its [road] advancement will lead to development and demand.”

According to the plan, one of the primary objectives determining the routes of the roads was to “bypass the Arab population centers.” It was according to this conception that Israel built dozens of new roads in the West Bank during the 1980s, reports B’Tselem.