Current Issues  
Settlements, Jerusalem, the Security Barrier,
the Right of Return, and more

Settlements - p2

The Occupation
   Taking Control of Land
   Dispossession, Exploitation
   Splitting the West Bank
   Restriction of Movement
      Checkpoints, Closed Rds

   Imposition of Siege
   Beatings & Abuse
   Home Demolitions
   Destruction of olive trees
   Medical Care
   Water Crisis

The Settlements
The Settlements, p2
   Settlers' Violence
   Settlers' Violence, p2

The Separation Wall
Another Israeli officer speaks

"Settlements change the reality on the ground in a way that makes the contiguity of the Palestinian territories less and less viable, not to mention the grabbing of private Palestinian lands. It is important to remember that 84 out of a 100 outposts are built fully or partially on private Palestinian lands."
Retired Israeli Colonel Shaul Arieli, former commander of the northern brigade in the Gaza Strip; board member, Israel’s Council for Peace and Security. Interview with Middle East Bulletin.

West Bank Settlements: Facts and Figures
June 2009

Settlements are Jewish communities that Israel established after 1967 beyond the Green Line on land occupied in the Six-Day War.

During the disengagement program in the summer of 2005, 17 Gaza Strip settlements and four settlements in northern West Bank were dismantled.

Today, all settlements are in the West Bank. The Government of Israel has invested and continues to invest heavily in the construction and defense of settlements.

• Number of settlements: 120 official settlements in the West Bank (not including East Jerusalem)

• Area of the settlements: The official jurisdiction of the settlements stands at approximately 130,000 acres, or 9.3% of West Bank land. Some of the settlements sit on land privately owned by Palestinians.

• Number of settlers: 289,600 (according to Central Bureau of Statistics data for 2008). In addition, some 190,000 Israelis live beyond the Green Line in East Jerusalem.

• Number of Palestinians in the West Bank: Approximately 2,264,000 Palestinians live in the West Bank and another 250,000 in East Jerusalem (according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics data for 2007).
About 90% of West Bank residents are Palestinians (and about 10% Jewish settlers).

Outposts are, essentially, settlements established by governments of Israel since the 1990s in an unofficial and illegal manner. In 1996, the government decided not to build new settlements; but in order to skirt political and international obligations, it established unofficial settlements, calling them “illegal outposts” or “unauthorized outposts.” 

• Number of outposts: 99 outposts throughout the West Bank.

• Number of settlers in the outposts: Peace Now estimates that over 4,000 settlers are living in the outposts.

• Occupation of privately owned Palestinian land: 80 outposts are located fully or partially on land privately owned by Palestinians. Of these, 16 are located, in their entirety, on private land.

• Number of structures in the outposts: Peace Now estimates that the outposts contain approximately 1,600 mobile homes and 270 permanent structures.

Following domestic and international criticism about the continued construction and expansion of outposts, Prime Minister Sharon appointed Attorney Talia Sasson to prepare a comprehensive report on this matter.

On March 8, 2005, after months of intense work, Talia Sasson presented the Prime Minister with a report that contained the following conclusion: “The outposts are mostly established by bypassing procedure and violating the law, displaying false pretense towards some of the State authorities, and enjoying the cooperation of other authorities in harsh violation of the law.”

The Settler Population
• Population growth: The annual rate of growth of the West Bank settler population has been approx. 5% in recent years, as opposed to 1.8% in Israel as a whole. In other words, the rate of population growth in the settlements is nearly three times that of the overall Israeli population.


White House Statement on Israeli Settlements
September 2009                                                               
On September 4, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs issued a statement in response to reports that Prime Minister Netanyahu plans to approve hundreds of new housing units in the West Bank prior to a moratorium on settlement construction. "We regret the reports of Israel's plans to approve additional settlement construction. Continued settlement activity is inconsistent with Israel's commitment under the Roadmap…

The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued settlement expansion and we urge that it stop."

The Settlements Under International Law 

Since 1967, Israel has occupied the West Bank.  The fundamental principle of international law establishes that occupation is temporary.  This principle, which is accepted – declaratively, at least – by  Israel,1 prohibits the occupying power from establishing permanent facts in the occupied territory.  International law views the occupying power’s rule as temporary, with the occupier holding the territory as a trustee, until its final status is decided upon.2  Establishing permanent civilian communities (settlements) in the occupied territory for the population of the occupying power contravenes the substantive prohibition on establishing permanent facts in occupied territory. 

The  Fourth  Geneva  Convention  forbids the  occupying power  to  transfer  its  civilian  population  to  the  occupied  territory.  This  prohibition  relates not only to  expelling  civilians  or  forcibly  transferring  them  to  the  occupied  territory;  it  applies  also  where  the  occupying  power  encourages  its  civilians  to  relocate  to  land  that  is  under  occupation  or  assists  them  in  that endeavor.

Regarding  this  sweeping  prohibition,  the  question  of  ownership  of  the  land  is  irrelevant:  the  prohibition  on  establishing  settlements  applies  to  both  private  Palestinian  land  and  public  land  (state  land).  Establishing  settlements  on  private  Palestinian  land  also  violates  provisions  of  international  law  that  require  the  occupying  power  to  protect  private  property.4  The  occupying  power  also  has  the  duty  to  protect  public  property,  but  Israel  breaches  this  duty  by  establishing settlements on state land.5 

To date, 121 official settlements and some 100 unrecognized settlements,  referred to as “unauthorized outposts,” have been established in the West Bank.  In addition, 12 Israeli neighborhoods have been built on West Bank territory that Israel unilaterally annexed to Jerusalem’s jurisdiction area, as defined after 1967. Under international law, these neighborhoods have the same status as Israeli settlements built in other parts of the West Bank.  The very existence of the settlements leads to numerous violations of Palestinians’ human rights, among them the rights to equality, property, an adequate standard of living, freedom of movement, and self-determination.6  Under international law, all these communities are illegal. 

1 - The state made such declarations in its responses to various High Court of  Justice petitions. See, for example, its Supplemental Statement on Behalf of Respondents 1?5 in HCJ 1526/07, Ahmad ‘Issa ‘Abdallah Yassin and 16 Others v. Head of the Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria et al., July 5, 2007. 
2 - HCJ 393/82, Jam’iyyat Iskan al?Mu’alimoun al?Mahdduda al?Mas’uliyyah v. Commander of IDF Forces in Judea 
and Samaria, ruling given on December 28, 1983.
3 - Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War; International Court of Justice advisory opinion on construction of the Separation Barrier (2005). 
4 - For example, article 46 of the Regulations Attached to the Hague Convention on the Laws and Customs of War on Land of 1907. 
5 - Article 55 of the Regulations Attached to the Hague Convention on the Laws and Customs of War on Land of 1907. 
6 - B'Tselem, Land Grab: Israel’s Settlement Policy in the West Bank (May 2002), pp. 41-44.

Source: "The Hidden Agenda"  B’tselem-The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories and Planners for Planning Rights, December 2009

Land Expropriation and Settlements

From 1967 to the end of 2007, Israel established 121 settlements in the West Bank that were recognized by the Interior Ministry as “communities”, even though some of them contain stretches of land on which the built-up area is not contiguous. 12 other settlements are located on land annexed by Israel in 1967 and made part of Jerusalem. There are additional 100 or so unrecognized settlements, referred to in the media as “outposts.” The 16 settlements built in the Gaza Strip and three settlements in the northern West Bank were dismantled in 2005 during implementation of the "disengagement plan."

As part of the regime, Israel has stolen thousands of dunams of land from the Palestinians. On this land, Israel has established dozens of settlements in which hundreds of thousands of Israeli civilians now live. Israel forbids Palestinians to enter and use these lands. The existence of the settlements causes many violations of Palestinians’ human rights, such as the right to housing, to earn a living, and freedom of movement. The sharp changes Israel made to the map of the West Bank make a viable Palestinian state impossible as part of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.

The settlers, on the other hand, benefit from all rights given to citizens of Israel who live inside the Green Line, and in some instances, even additional rights. The great effort Israel has expended in the settlement enterprise – financially, legally, and bureaucratically – has turned the settlements into civilian enclaves within an area under military rule and has given the settlers a preferred status. To perpetuate this unlawful situation, Israel has continuously violated the Palestinians’ human rights.

Especially conspicuous is Israel’s manipulative use of the law to create a semblance of legality for the settlement enterprise. So long as Jordanian law assisted Israel in advancing its goals, it seized the argument that international law requires that an occupying state apply the law in effect in the territory prior to occupation, thus construing international law in a cynical and tendentious way. When Jordanian law was unfavorable for Israel, Israel did not hesitate to revoke it though military legislation and develop new rules to meet its ends. In doing so, Israel tramples on international agreements to which it is party – agreements which are intended to reduce human rights violations and protect people under occupation.

The very establishment of the settlements is illegal, and in light of the human rights violations resulting from the existence of the settlements, the achievement of a just peace between the Palestinians and Israelis will require that Israel evacuate the settlements.

Clearly, evacuation of the settlements will be complex and will take time; however there are intermediate steps that can be taken immediately so as to reduce, to the extent possible, human rights violations and breaches of international law. For example, the government should cease new construction in the settlements – both the building of new settlements and the expansion of existing settlements. It must also freeze the planning and building of new bypass roads and must cease expropriating and seizing land intended for the bypass roads. The government must return to Palestinian villages all the non-built-up land that was placed within the municipal jurisdiction of the settlements and the regional councils, eliminate the planning boards in the settlements, and, as a result thereof, revoke the power of the local authorities to draw up outline plans and grant building permits. Also, the government must cease the granting of incentives to encourage Israeli citizens to move to settlements and must make resources available to encourage settlers to move inside Israel’s borders.


Government still offering settlers incentives
Tovah Lazaroff and Rebecca Anna Stoil
Jerusalem Post
First-time home buyers can receive a bigger mortgage if they move to settlements such as Itamar and Eilon Moreh, than to the city of Ashkelon, according to the Construction and Housing Ministry Web site. Banks use the ministry's formula to calculate how much money can be lent to a family, based on the number of children, the time the parents spent in the army, their immigration status and the region where the home is located.

This means, for example, that a family of five can receive a mortgage of NIS 244,020 in the Itamar settlement, located southeast of Nablus and some 28 km. over the 1949-1967 armistice line, but in Ashkelon the formula awards the family amortgage of NIS 223,620. The additional NIS 20,400 is one of the last vestiges of a system of grants and tax breaks eliminated under prime minister Ariel Sharon, through which the state encouraged people to choose homes in the settlements over those in the center of the country.

But while grants and tax breaks for settlements are no longer available, some settlements remain on the preferential status lists within different ministries. As a result, their residents, along with those of any community on the preferential status list, are eligible for a special loan conditions. Peace Now, in its June report on the 2009-2010 draft state budget, took issue with the practice.

Hagit Ofran said a better loan deal for purchasing a home in the settlements was a type of incentive. She noted that money was set aside in the Construction and Housing Ministry's budget to guarantee the loans. "It helps people move to settlements," and in this way the government was hindering a two-state solution, Ofran said. The ministry could not be reached for comment....