In the years since first I travelled between Jerusalem and Hebron, the journey and the land either side of it has been transformed. Early in the 1990s it was a country road. A few Jewish settlements were noticeably spilling down from the hills, especially south of Bethlehem, the first Palestinian town the road passes as it leaves Jerusalem. But most of the land along the road was open fields that had been terraced and cultivated by generations of Palestinian farmers. Some of them used to travel to work riding on donkeys that plodded along the verges of the road.
Farmers still grow crops, but their fields have been reduced and sliced up by a huge expansion of settlements. Swathes of Palestinian land have been confiscated to widen and straighten the road, and to connect it to an ever-growing network of bypasses linking settlements with each other and Jerusalem. Cuttings for the new roads have been gouged out of the hills. This week the Jerusalem-Hebron road was jammed with traffic. Many of the cars had Israeli number plates, reflecting the big increase in the Jewish population in the area's settlements.