Israeli mining giant Rothschilds Gold Corporation is in the midst of an enormous expansion project to expand its gold and oil reserves in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
The company is expected to open its first gold mine in the Negev, a region where Palestinians have long complained about the illegal confiscation of their land.
The expansion, which is set to begin in 2018, will result in the creation of an estimated 500,000 to 700,000 square meters of open space, according to the Jerusalem Post.
“We’re building a new gold mine,” said Rothschilds chief executive officer Daniel R. Gershon.
“We’re adding a new complex, a new port, and an airport.
We’re also adding a whole new area for tourism.”
The company’s expansion is not without controversy, however.
Rothschilds claims that the expansion is necessary to protect the company’s interests in the territory, despite a 2008 Israeli Supreme Court ruling that the company had no right to claim land in the West Bank for the development.
The company is also under pressure from Palestinians in the area to halt the expansion.
The group is currently seeking approval for a plan to expand the gold mine by more than a kilometer.
In an interview with the Post, Riesen said the expansion will take place under the watchful eye of the Israeli military.
“If the settlers start digging tunnels in the water, we will stop them,” Riesens comments said.
According to the company, the project is expected in line with the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) guidelines on the safe and appropriate use of the territory’s water resources.
However, Israel has yet to grant the company any permits to begin digging in the region, and the plan has yet, to receive final approval from the Israeli High Court.
On Monday, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CEDAR) also slammed the project.
“The IAEA and the Palestinian Authority, the two countries that are responsible for the Israeli occupation, are making it clear that the Israeli Government is determined to pursue and intensify its efforts to expand their operations into the West, in contravention of international law,” CEDAR said in a statement.
This expansion will harm the Palestinian people, as it will harm their water, soil, and other resources.
The IAEAC’s General Assembly resolution also stated that the project threatens to create a permanent environmental hazard to the area and that its impact on the water resources of the West is significant.
The CEDR also criticized the IAEAA for not taking immediate action against the project, which was approved without the IAC’s approval, and for allowing the company to continue with the project in the absence of a proper permit.
“Despite the IAA’s own assessment that the mine is safe, the ICAE and its staff are not doing enough to protect Palestinian people from the consequences of the project,” CedAR stated.
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