Al-Walaja al-Jadida (New Walaja) is a Palestinian town located in an enclave in the West Bank Seam area created by the wall, four km northwest of the city of Bethlehem in the Bethlehem Governorate and is also a part of Israel's Jerusalem municipality. The town's original location was the opposite side of the wadi to its current location on the armistice line in modern-day Israel. Approximately half of the town's total land area has been stolen by Israeli authorities for the building of the Har Gilo and Gilo settlements adjacent to al-Walaja, and closed off areas to the south and west of it. The town's inhabitants have also experienced the cutting down of fruit orchards and house demolition due to the 'absence of building permits'.
al-Walaja is a Palestinian village in Bethlehem Governorate located 5km west of Bethlehem City. Al Walaja is bordered by Beit Jala town to the east, the 1949 Armistice Line (the Green Line) to the north and west, and Battir and Husan villages to the south. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), the total population of Al Walaja in 2007 was 2,041.
AIC reports (26 July 2010):According to the Palestine Monitor, since 2007, the people of Al-Walaja have received four different maps outlining the proposed route of the wall. The first official proposal threatened to divide the town in two parts, completely cutting off one part of the village from the other. After formally complaining to the Israeli high court, the plan for the village was eventually overturned.
The current plan for Al-Walaja will see the town surrounded on all sides by the wall. Only one entry and exit point, under complete military control, will remain. The position of nearby settlements mean the Wall will encroach further onto village land, shrinking Al-Walaja before surrounding it.
Since 2006 around half of the village property has been confiscated by Israel in order to build the settlements Har Gilo and Gilo. Furthermore, the Israeli government closed off the areas South and West of Al-Wajala.
Impact of the Israeli Occupation
According to Oslo Interim Agreement, signed in September 1995, between the Palestinian National Authority and the Israeli government, Al Walaja lands were classified into areas B and C; 113 dunums (2.6 percent of the total area of the village) of which were classified as area B, in which public order falls under the Palestinian National Authority's responsibility, where Israeli has full control over security matters. As for the remaining part of Al Walaja lands, 4215 dunums, (97.4%), were classified as area C, an area that is under full control of the Israeli government. Since Israeli has control of this land, Palestinians are prevented from construction or benefiting from this land in any way possible, unless they get permission, which is extremely difficult, from the Israeli civilian administration in Bethlehem. It is worth mentioning here that area C includes agricultural lands, open spaces and small parts of urban areas
Land classification in Al Walaja according to Oslo II Agreement in 1995 Land Classification Area in dunums Pct of Total village area Area A 0 0 Area B 113 2.6 Area C 4,215 97.4 Nature Reserve 0 0 Total 4,328 100 Source: ARIJ-GIS Unit, 2009
Israeli governments pursued an aggressive policy of land confiscation for the construction of Israeli settlements, military bases, and bypass roads to link the settlements to each other. Al Walaja, like other Palestinian villages and towns, lost part of its lands, around 137 dunums (3.2 percent of the total area of the village) for the construction of the Israeli settlements of Gilo, and Har Gilo.
Bypass roads in Al WalajaThe bypass road number 436 extends for 2.5km on Al Walaja southern part; isolating 713 dunums of Area A.
The Segregation Wall
The Israeli racist discrimination plan, represented mainly by the construction of the Segregation Wall, has a negative and destructive impact on Al Walaja. According to the updated Segregation Wall plan published on the web page of the Israeli Ministry of Defense in April 2007; the Segregation Wall will extend for 6.3km on Al Walaja lands; thus isolating and confiscating 4209 dunums of the village territory (97 percent of the total area of the village). The majority of this land is agricultural land, forests, and open areas. This is in addition to the annexation of the Israeli settlements, Gilo and Har Gilo, to Israel.
Moreover, the Racist Segregation Wall will surround Al Walaja village from its east, west, and north sides. As for its southern side, there is a fortified road, controlled by the Israeli army, alongside bypass road number 436, which is considered the only outlet available for the village residents who are heading towards the services center in Bethlehem city. Also, the southern part of Al Walaja will be surrounded by 2.4km wall, along the bypass road number 436, which will be protected from both sides with ditches and barbed wires (ranging between 80 and 100 meters wide). In general, the wall will isolate the village from other Palestinian villages in the rural west and the major cities in Bethlehem governorate.
Al Walaja Crossing
In February 9, 2006, the Israeli Occupation Army issued a new military order # (06/25/T) to confiscate 39.8 dunums from Al Walaja village and Beit Jala city. The order identified the reason for the confiscation as “military purposes”, which was later defined for the construction of a new crossing in the area, (Har Gilo Crossing). The crossing aims to control movement of Al Walaja residents between their village and services in Bethlehem Governorate and beyond. The military order comes in parallel with the Israeli Segregation Wall plan, which is set to encircle Al Walaja. Residents of the village will only have this crossing to move in and out of their village, which will be under the Israeli Army's control, virtually making the residents prisoners in their own village.
Construction of a New Settlement on Al Walaja Territory � Giva't Yael Settlement
In June 2004, the Israeli authorities announced the construction of a new settlement (Giva't Yael) in Al Walaja village. The plan is to build this settlement on an area of 2000 dunums of the Palestinian land in Bethlehem governorate that will include more than 13,200 residential units and will accommodate 55,000 Israeli settlers. The construction of this settlement will complete the cycle of Israeli settlements, which separates the city of Jerusalem from other Palestinian cities and surrounds Bethlehem Governorate with Israeli settlements from all sides; starting from Har Homa in the north-east, till Gilo and Har Gilo in the north, towards Giva't Yael settlement, which is planned to be constructed in the north-west, and ending with Gosh Etzion settlements, south of the governorate.Milestones of Al Walaja [UNRWA report]:
- 1948: Old Al Walaja is attacked by Israeli forces on several occasions and destroyed. Some residents flee to their agricultural lands on the West Bank side of the Green Line, others to Jerusalem, Bethlehem or abroad.
- 1967: Israel occupies the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the boundaries of the Jerusalem Municipality are extended to include 50 per cent of Al Walaja lands.
- 1970s: More than 120 dunums are confiscated for the construction of Gilo and Har Gilo settlements and a bypass road.
- 1985: Jerusalem Municipality imposes its jurisdiction on the area of Al Walaja located inside the municipal boundary, while the rest of the village remains under the Israeli Civil Administration. For the first time, the Municipality demolishes two homes on the Jerusalem side for being built without permits. The Municipality refuses to elaborate a zoning plan that would establish a system allowing residents to officially submit requests for building permits.
- 1985-2006: Forty-five houses are demolished (30 within the Jerusalem municipal area and 15 in Area C of the West Bank). A further 45 pending demolition orders are concentrated on the Jerusalem side.
- 1989: Residents of the Jerusalem side appeal to the Israeli authorities to be included as part of the West Bank. This appeal is made again in 2003. On both occasions, they are told that the area belongs to the Jerusalem Municipality.
- 1991-2006: Fines are issued for construction without building permits. Residents are arrested and detained or jailed until fines are paid. More than 80 residents, whose homes are on the Jerusalem side, are arrested for being present without a permit inside Israel's unilaterally defined Jerusalem municipality boundaries.
- 2004: Private investors announce the construction of the new Givat Yael settlement.
- 2004: The community appeals to the Israeli High Court against the route of the Barrier splitting the community in two. In October 2004, the High Court rules that the village should stay intact.
- April 2006: An Israeli court agrees to delay demolitions for three years to give the Al Walaja community time to work with the Jerusalem Municipality on elaborating a zoning plan. Israeli authorities confirm plans to build the Barrier around Al Walaja.
- August 2006: The community forms a committee to work with lawyers, architects and the Jerusalem Municipality to develop the zoning plan. The master plan is initially rejected by the Municipality and is then submitted to the Regional Council.
- September 2009: The moratorium on house destructions in Al Walaja ends and houses with pending demolition orders come under threat once again. As of 2013, no master plan has been approved, but no formal and definitive rejection has been issued.
- October 2009: Givat Yael settlement plans are leaked: a settlement of 14,000 housing units, to be built by a private investor. According to the plans, it will expropriate 60 per cent of Al Walaja lands.
- April 2010: Barrier construction resumes. Al Walaja village will be isolated by the Barrier from most of its agricultural land.
- August 2011: Plans emerge for construction of an Israeli national park on both sides of the Green Line, including on most of the Al Walaja agricultural lands isolated by the Barrier. Construction of the park begins soon after.
- March 2012: The Israeli Ministry of Interior approves the expansion of Gilo settlement by 797 housing units, to be built on parts of Al Walaja's agricultural lands.
- October 2012: Eighteen administrative demolition orders are issued to Al Walaja residents.
- 2011-May 2013: The Jerusalem Planning and Building Committee approve the establishment of the national park on 1,200 dunums of land located between the Barrier and the Green Line belonging to Al Walaja.
The principal families of the village: Al Araj, Al Hagagla, Abed Rabbo and Al Wahadna
Amira Hass reports (1 November 2017): There is theft ostensibly perpetrated by individuals, and then there’s state theft – in the village of Al-Walaja, for example. It’s very possible that this is the last year in which the olive harvest will take place there as it should. Next year, residents will already be subject to a permit regime in order to reach their lands via an agricultural gate in the separation wall, which will be opened only when the agricultural staff officer at Israel’s Civil Administration in the West Bank decides it should be opened – for two or three months a year. In the morning it will open and close immediately, and in the evening it will be open and close immediately.
Last Friday, a resident of Al-Walaja and Israeli volunteers from Engaged Dharma, who were helping to harvest his land, preferred to talk about things that are pleasant to talk about: the quality of the olive oil, the plump olives growing on the trees near the pool, the more wizened olives that had been harvested from the lower terrace, the glorious taste of the radishes and green onions that he grows between the trees. But next year, residents of the village will contend with strict conditions for getting a permit – conditions that contradict the Palestinians’ custom of working the land collectively, and which very likely won’t allow them to continue growing vegetables there.The yawners are already hiking on Al-Walaja’s lands, which have been declared a national park for rest and relaxation, for carousels and ritual immersion by Jews. And God willing, next year, when the wall’s construction has been completed, no Palestinians – the land’s legal owners – will be seen there.
Wikimapia: See this place in Wikimapia
See this place in a dynamic Google map
See the location of this place in a static overview map
See this Wikipedia (English) article
Palestine Remembered: See data about this place in Palestine Remembered
Places in this area: