Ariel Upgraded towards Israeli Elections
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The map accompanying the paragraph above is misleading. It shows Ariel roughly at the center of Samaria. The settlement is 40km from the Mediterranean coast, and the same distance separates it from the Jordan River. Despite the geographical correctness of these facts, they are deceptive. The close-up map below shows the reality as seen by travelers to the town arriving from Tel Aviv along Route #5. In a parcel to parcel job, the early Likud governments ethnically cleansed the road to Ariel. You can travel from Tel Aviv to Ariel without seeing any Palestinian settlements. Thus, it is accessible; placing a university with low admission requirements makes it even more attractive.
Unlike Israeli cities and councils, Ariel’s territory isn’t continuous but includes three different areas separated by grounds owned by Palestinians. Overall, the town’s territory is about five kilometers long and 700 meters wide. The town is surrounded by a fence, meaning Palestinians do not have access to their territories within the municipality. This was done on purpose, so that Israel confiscated less territory than it occupied later. In 1989 it was awarded the status of city. In January 2010 Netanyahu declared it Capital of Samaria (a title technically empty of meaning). On December of the same year, thirty-five MKs petitioned the Israeli government to annex Ariel.
After reviewing all these facts, it becomes clear there is a special interest in this settlement and the ones surrounding it, usually referred to as the Ariel Block. The interest is threefold. The first reason is the Second Corridor (see Reviving Burma Road), an alternative route between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. After ethnically cleansing the road from Tel Aviv to Ariel, a great part of the task has been accomplished. Road 60, the second part of the road—from Ariel to Jerusalem—has often been featured in this website. The second is the planning of Ariel as an expansion of “Gush Dan.” Namely meaning “Dan’s Block,” this is the name given to the seven cities occupying central Israel, with Tel Aviv at the very center. This metropolis is the financial and commercial center of the country. By now it has stagnated, lacking expansion lands. I recently commented on Netanyahu’s decision to renew studies on the construction of large islands in front of Tel Aviv; but another solution is the annexation of the Ariel Block. Looking carefully at the large map above, one can see the Barkan Industrial Area just before Ariel. This is one of the solutions offered to industry in the area, which finds itself constantly pushed away from the metropolis. Nobody wants to spoil the “White City” with cheese factories. As well, this process is isolating Kalkilya—a Palestinian city—from the West Bank. Despite having a population of less than twenty-thousand, Ariel features two substantial industrial areas, including one defined as “heavy;” in 2008, Israel approved the construction of another 27 factories. These are astounding numbers. The third is the fact that Ariel sits on an access point to the Mountain Acquifer, the main fresh water reserve between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. There, water is worth more than gold.
Considering all this, Ariel is probably the most strategic Israeli settlement in the West Bank. It is also deeply related to the Likud, which in recent years has found itself on the defensive against more militant settlers. That was enough for Netanyahu to award the status of university to a high-school-level establishment, known worldwide for its invaluable contributions in the research of the History of the Likud. On elections day, this is worth expensive votes. On Judgment Day, this will be worth condemnation.
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