Palestine Liberation Organization Negotiations Affairs Department June 2013

The Latrun Valley: An Integral Part of the State of Palestine
The Latrun Valley is located 20km northwest of Jerusalem on the historic road to Jaffa; it covers an area of 50km2, and is close to the Green Line. In 1948, the Latrun Valley consisted of the following villages: Beit Nuba, Yalu, Imwas, Latrun, EL Khalayil, Beit Mahsir, Deir Aiyub and Khirbat El Buweiriya. As a result of the 1948 Nakba (catastrophe), when two-thirds of the Palestinian population were forcibly exiled from their homes by Zionist militias prior to the creation of the State of Israel, almost half of the valley is now considered No Man’s Land (NML),1 an integral part of the Occupied State of Palestine. The Latrun Valley is well-known for its rich water resources and fertile land. The valley begins just west of the Palestinian village of Budrus and runs southwards until it reaches Qatanna, a Palestinian village 12km northwest of Jerusalem. The Church of Imwas, a pilgrimage site for Palestinian Christians, is also situated in the valley. During the June 1967 war, the Israeli military occupied the whole area of the Latrun Valley. The three Latrun villages that were left after the 1948 Nakba (Imwas, Yalu and Beit Nuba) were ethnically cleansed before being completely wiped off the map. After the forced displacement of the Palestinian inhabitants was conducted by the Israeli Army, the Jewish National Fund, in cooperation with Canada, built a park (the “Canada Park”) over the site of the villages. Most recently, Israel has begun the construction of a fast train between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem that passes through areas of the Occupied State of Palestine, including the Latrun. The route of the fast train demonstrates Israeli plans to turn its occupation into the annexation of vast areas in Palestine, of which the Latrun represents one of the most strategic areas to be annexed. Though Israeli propaganda claims that the three villages were already empty when the Israeli army arrived, the testimonies of the residents of those villages, in addition to testimonies of some of the Israeli soldiers who were present at the time, confirm a premeditated forced expulsion. An Israeli photographer Yosef Hochman, who accompanied the soldiers at the time, reported that he asked Major General Uzi Narkiss (Central Command General in 1967 who gave the orders for the destruction of the villages) why the three Latrun villages were destroyed. According to Hochman: “Narkiss answered that it was revenge for what happened there in 1948.”
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There are several areas of the West Bank that are referred to as “no man’s land” (“NML”). These are found around the area of the Latrun Salient and in Jerusalem. NML is not a specific term under international law. The designation does not mean that the land belongs to “no one”. The NML is part of the West Bank. The NML like the rest of the West Bank was occupied by Israel in 1967. Since it was acquired by force, Israel cannot have a valid legal claim to the territory itself. There is some indication that Israel recognizes that it does not have sovereignty over the NML. For example, in the case State of Israel v. Eytan Kramer (CF Beit Shemesh) 1193/04 (2005), the magistrate court of Beit Shemesh finds that Israel does not have sovereignty over the NML. This is recognition by an arm of the state that the NML is not part of Israel proper. Israel has tried to argue that NML is terra nullius -- essentially making the claim that the NML was not under any sovereignty and up for grabs therefore Israel merely took possession of it after the 1967 war. This argument does not hold, most obviously because the land was inhabited by Palestinians. The village of Deir Ayyub and the Latrun monastery both are situated in the NML. The Israelis depopulated the village of Deir Ayyub in the 1948 war and the Franciscan monks of the Latrun monastery continue to live in and cultivate the area to this day.

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In his memoirs of the 1967 war, Moshe Dayan wrote about the destruction of the Latrun villages and half of Qalqilya: “[houses were destroyed] not in the battle, but as punishment … and in order to chase away the inhabitants.”

The villages:
Imwas: At the time that Israel occupied the West Bank in 1967, Imwas had around 2000 inhabitants, most of whom worked in the agriculture sector. The village had a school and religious shrines for Christians and Muslims. The village of Imwas alone owned some 55 000 dunums (approx. 13 600 acres) of agricultural land. During the Nakba of 1948, Zionist militias had attempted to occupy the village of Imwas several times, but were defeated. As a result of the truce-agreements2 signed at the time, Imwas lost some 50 000 dunums of its land. By 1967, Imwas had a mere 5,167 dunums of land. Yalo: The village of Yalo covered an area of 14 992 dunums (approx. 3700 acres), which were mainly used for agricultural purposes. When Israeli forces entered the village in 1967, Yalo had a population of around 1,700 inhabitants. Most of the villagers left for the Ramallah region and Jordan. Beit Nuba’: By 1967, Nuba’ was a village comprising 12 890 dunums (approx. 3200 dunums) of land and had a population of around 1,500.Like Imwas and Yalo, most of the land was used for agricultural purposes. Beit Nuba was known by the Romans as “Beth Annaba.” About 90% of the people of Beit Nuba fled to Jordan and the remaining 10% fled to the neighboring villages of Beit Liqia, Beit Sira and Qataneh. Today there are a number of people from Beit Nuba living in Ramallah.

The Karama Neighborhood of Beit Liqia: In 1974, some of the people of Beit Nuba who were now living in surrounding villages received a few permits from the Israeli occupation authorities to build houses in the southern part of the neighboring village of Beit Liqia. Until today, the total number of permits issued is only 16. This area became known as the “Karama neighborhood” (residents refused to name the area “new Beit Nuba” as they remain convinced that one-day they will go back to their original
2

Rhodes agreement: http://www.peaceau.org/uploads/egyptian-israel-1949.pdf

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village). The whole neighborhood lies in area ‘C’.3 Today there are about 320 people living in the neighborhood but the number is diminishing year after year, as Israel prevents the people from expanding or constructing extensions to the houses in which they live. When Israel began to build its Annexation Wall in the West Bank, land was seized from the Karama neighborhood as with many other Palestinian villages.. The Annexation Wall strangled the Karama neighborhood, completely separating the people from almost all of their agricultural land. In addition, half of the houses in the neighborhood received demolition orders from the Israeli military. Recently, the Israeli authorities also issued a demolition order to the monument built in the neighborhood for the legacy of the fallen Egyptian soldiers of the war in 1967. It is therefore not difficult for the people of Beit Nuba to remember how they used to live in their village before 1967. The place where they reside today is almost a stone ’s throw away from their destroyed village. In fact, what they can see from their homes today is an Israeli settlement called Mevo Horon built on top of their destroyed village and the its cemetery, which they are prohibited to visit or to maintain.

Latrun: Another Example of Palestine’s denied potential:
Preventing Palestinians from making use of the Latroun area is part of Israel’s systematic attempt to turn the occupation of Palestinian land into annexation. The Latrun Valley holds enormous potential for Palestinians, including its fertile lands, water resources, archeological sites and religious shrines. It is a vital and integral part of the State of Palestine as defined by the 1967 border.

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In accordance with the Oslo Interim Agreement signed between the PLO and Israel in 1993

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DESTROYED PALESTINIAN VILLAGES IN OCCUPIED LATRUN VALLEY ( J U N E 2013 )
Ni'lin Deir Qaddis Kharbatha Bani Harith Abu Qash Al Jalazun Camp Ras Karkar Al Midya Al Janiya

Talmon
Surda

Beit El

Hashmonaim Shilat

Modi'in Illit
Bil'in Kafr Ni'ma

Dolev

'Ein Qiniya

Beitin

Lapid Kfar Ruth

Deir Ibzi'

Saffa

Ramallah
'Ein 'Arik Beit 'Ur at Tahta Beituniya Al Bireh

Destroyed Villages

Psagot

Makkabim
Beit Sira

Kharbatha al Misbah

Beit 'Ur al Fauqa

Al Am'ari Camp

Beit Horon
Rafat

Kafr 'Aqab

Kochav Yaacov

1

Beit Liqya

At Tira

443

Giva't Ze'ev

Qalandiya

Beit Nuba
3
Beit 'Anan

Beit Duqqu Al Jib

Al Judeira Bir Nabala

Atarot

Yalu 'Imwas Latrun Deir Aiyub

Mevo Horon
Umm al Lahim Qatanna Al Qubeiba

Givo'n Beit Ijza Hachadasha
Biddu

Har Shmuel

Beit Hanina al Balad

Beit Hanina

Neve Ya'akov

20 4
Beit Iksa

Har Adar

Beit Surik

Ramot Allon

Ramat Shlomo

Pisgat Ze'ev
Shu'fat

1

1

Ramat French Eshkol Hill

W e s t

E a s t
OLD CITY

0

2.5
© NAD-NSU

5 Km

Jerusalem
Al Q u d s

1967 Boundary (“Green Line”) Palestinian city, town or village Palestinian territory west/east of the Wall
1

Israeli settlement built-up area Planned settlement expansion Israeli settlement cultivation

Local Palestinian road Israeli Wall Israeli checkpoint Israeli settler bypass road

Khirbat El Buweiriya

3

Beit Nuba
Mevo Horon

Yalu EL Khalayil
Latrun Monastery

'Imwas Latrun

3
Neve Shalom

1

Deir Aiyub
0 0.75 2 Km

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