November 21, 2006

Israel's Illegal Settlements.

A report by an Israeli advocacy group, using official Israeli documents, shows that 39% of the land used for Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank is privately owned by Palestinians. An article to this effect appeared today in New York Times, which obtained an advanced copy of the report.

The report also says that 54% of the land is "state land".
The maps indicate that beyond the private land, 5.8 percent is so-called survey land, meaning of unclear ownership, and 1.3 percent private Jewish land. The rest, about 54 percent, is considered “state land” or has no designation, though Palestinians say that at least some of it represents agricultural land expropriated by the state.

Israel has thus no legitimate claim over more than 98% of the land it is using as settlements. Any argument justifying this based on the need for security is ridiculous. Settling Jews in the middle of Arabs is a peculiar way of establishing security.

New York Times has done well to publish this story. At least indirectly it is suggested that Israeli actions are illegal.

The report does not include Jerusalem, which Israel has annexed and does not consider part of the West Bank, although much of the world regards East Jerusalem as occupied. Much of the world also considers Israeli settlements on occupied land to be illegal under international law. International law requires an occupying power to protect private property, and Israel has always asserted that it does not take land without legal justification.

Majority of Palestinians hate Israel not because they are anti-semitic. There is no historical evidence for that. They hate Israel only because of what they see as an active Israeli policy to appropriate their lands and drive them away. In the face of numerous Israeli actions, I for one am not surprised they feel that way.

Update: Here is the report issued by Peace Now. It concludes that:
For many years the state of Israel has been seizing thousands of dunams of private Palestinian land in order to construct settlements. The claim by the State and settlers that the settlements have been constructed on state land is misleading and false. The vast majority of settlement construction was done against the law of the land and the Supreme Court ruling and therefore unauthorized.
On a moral note this report paints a picture of the Israeli state acting in “daylight robbery” of Palestinian land and handing it over to Israeli settlers. The State has been taking advantage of the weakened status of the Palestinians in order to steal their land.


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