Vast portions of Israeli settlements are built on land which the Israeli government recognizes as privately-owned by Palestinians...
Israel's Peace Now movement today released a report - featured on the front page of the New York Times - showing that vast portions of Israeli settlements in the West Bank are built on land which the Israeli government recognizes as privately-owned by Palestinians, as opposed to "state land," land whose ownership is unclear, or land owned by Jews. This groundbreaking report shatters the oft-repeated claim that settlements are built exclusively on public lands. The findings will also present a significant legal problem for the settlements, as the Israeli High Court of Justice has a long established precedent that privately owned lands cannot be used for settlement construction.
A short version of Peace Now's report is available at http://www.peacenow.org/images/112106PNReport.pdf
Go HERE to purchase the Peace Now Population Map of the West Bank
Peace Now and Americans for Peace Now have long opposed settlements because they indicate to Palestinians that Israel is not interested in a two-state solution, constitute a burden to Israel's security services, create points of friction between Israelis and Palestinians, and drain Israel's financial resources.
For decades, American opposition to settlements has been based on the political problems which they pose. Peace Now's report, however, reveals that settlements, by and large, are not only a disaster politically. They are also acts of large-scale land theft. American policy must respond to this revelation.
The time has come for the United States to finally hold Israel to its longstanding commitment to freeze all settlement activity and remove the outposts established since March 2001.
The data regarding land ownership used in the report is based exclusively on official Israeli government sources.
· Palestinians privately own nearly 40% of the land on which all of the
settlements have been built.
· Palestinians privately own over 40% of the land in settlements located west
of the security barrier in "settlement blocs," which many believe Israel plans on annexing, including 86.4%
of Ma'ale Adumim, 44.5% of Giv'at Zeev, 47.7% of Kedumim, and
35.1% of Ariel.
· 28.7% of the built-up territory of the settlements is
privately-owned Palestinian land.
· 5.7% of settlement territory is categorized as "survey land" - land whose ownership is not determined and on which development in illegal.
U.S. approach to settlements:
Most Israelis long ago realized that settlements are a security and strategic liability, an economic burden, and a source of friction between Israel and the Palestinians.
Successive U.S. administrations - going back more than 25 years - have also recognized that settlements are a security liability for Israel and a political liability for America by impeding future prospects for achieving peace.
· As far back as 1980, then-Secretary of State Cyrus Vance noted that "U.S. policy toward the
establishment of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories is unequivocal and has long been a matter of
public record. We consider it to be contrary to international law and an impediment to the successful conclusion of
the Middle East peace process."
· President Ronald Reagan articulated his own opposition to settlements on September 1, 1982,
when he stated that "further settlement activity is in no way necessary for the security of Israel and only
diminishes the confidence of the Arabs that a final outcome can be freely and fairly negotiated."
· Nearly a decade later, on May 22, 1991, then-Secretary of State James Baker III commented
that, "I don't think there is a bigger obstacle to peace than the settlement activity that continues not only
unabated but at an enhanced pace."
· Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice voiced the current administration's views concisely on November 14, 2005, when she commented that, "we've made it very clear that settlement activity is counter both to U.S. policy and, we believe, counter to the obligations that the Israelis have undertaken. We've been very clear that there should be no activities that prejudge a final status agreement..."
Friends of Israel should be embarrassed - as Americans for Peace Now is - that the government of Israel would be involved in such wholesale theft of private land. This upsetting revelation should encourage the government of Israel to adhere to its commitments and cease all settlement activity. It should also propel the Bush administration to work with Israel on doing so. The time has come for the United States to finally hold Israel to its longstanding commitment to freeze all settlement activity and remove the outposts established since March 2001.