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Early Olive Harvest in Jamma’in

The olive harvest for some farmers of the Jamma’in village near the illegal Israeli settlement of Ariel began early. Last week Palestinian farmers saw settlers’ goats and sheep chewing on the lower tree branches in their olive groves. The farmers, also fearing that settlers would steal the olives, decided to harvest their olives two weeks early, even though early harvesting results in lower olive oil production.

MPTers joined the farm families and 15-20 persons from Rabbis from Human Rights (RHR) on Friday in the olive harvesting. The RHR met Israeli soldiers who then left before MPTers arrived. The Palestinians, the RHR - Israelis and internationals (from Brazil, England, Australia and the United States, mainly Jewish )and MPTers were in a festive mood. An MPTer conversed with an elderly Israeli who had similar hopes for the peace talks, although both recognized tremendous obstacles. The Israeli commented on the changes in Israeli in the last few years with the influx of very conservative Russian Jews and very orthodox Jews from the USA, who have moved Israeli right wing even further right. His dreams included first a federation between Palestine and Israel, then one country and normal relations with Israel's neighbors, particularly Syria.

Last year well-armed Ariel settlers came down twice to harass the Palestinians during the olive harvest, but there were no incidents either on Friday or on Saturday when MPT picked with other internationals.

Ariel, the fourth largest settlement in the West Bank and a town of 17,000 with a university, was established in 1978. Ariel is the principal settlement in the Ariel bloc of 26 settlements. This bloc includes an industrial zone. Ariel is 14 miles inside the green line (the border of Palestine) and is connected to Israel and the other settlements by the Trans-Samarian Highway. These settlements reach into Palestine toward the Jordan Valley in an attempt to cut the northern part of Palestine in half. (See map link below)

Although there was a ten-month moratorium on settlement construction, there has been no appreciable decline in construction. Israeli peace activists, using aerial photographs and ground inspections have tracked settlement building.
http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/home/construction-of-israeli-settlements-has-barely-been-hampered-by-freeze/397960 (through Associated Press)

Big construction began again in the Ariel bloc a couple days before the end of the moratorium.

http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/afp/mideast-talks-face-collapse-as-settlement-freeze-ends/398141 [through Agence France-Presse (AFP)]

For more on the construction and the “Wild West” spirit in Ariel see: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-israel-settlement-mayor 20101003,0,4911782.story?page=2&utm_medium=feed&track=rss&utm_campaign=Feed%3A%20latimes%2Fmiddleeast%20%28L.A.%20Times%20-%20Middle%20East%29&utm_source=feedburner

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