Drawing on official Israeli military maps and population statistics, the leading Israeli human rights group, B’Tselem, compiled new findings that show that over 300,000 Jewish settlers now control more than 42 per cent of the occupied West Bank. The jurisdiction of some 200 settlements, illegal under international law, cover much more of the occupied Palestinian territory than previously thought. A large section of the land has been seized from private Palestinian landowners. Jewish settlers often claim a divine right to the whole of Israel.
The report states that, “the settlement enterprise has been characterized, since its inception, by an instrumental, cynical, and even criminal approach to international law, local legislation, Israeli military orders, and Israeli law, which has enabled the continuous pilfering of land from Palestinians in the West Bank.” While most of the Jewish settlement activity is concentrated in 1 per cent of the West Bank, settler councils have in fact fenced off or earmarked massive tracts of land, comprising some 42 per cent of the West Bank. At the same time, Israel has built bypass roads, erected new checkpoints, and taken control of scarce water resources to the benefit of the settlers.
The revelations in the B’Tselem report suggest that despite Israel’s stated desire for peace, the policy on settlements remains a dangerous obstacle to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.
Under international law, any Jewish settlements built on occupied territory are illegal. These include all the settlements in the West Bank, and thousands of Jewish homes in East Jerusalem, the Arab-dominated sector of the city annexed by Israel after the 1967 Six Day War. Israel has provided millions of dollars worth of incentives to encourage poorer families to move into the West Bank.
Source: The Independent—London, July 7, 2010
Title: Exposed: The truth about Israel’s land grab in the West Bank
Authors: Catrina Stewart in Jerusalem and David Usborne
Faculty Evaluator: Peter Phillips, Sonoma State University