Settlements in Focus - Vol. 2, Issue 4: Settlers vs. Palestinians: Double Standards and Illegal Construction

Providing detailed background and comparison to the various types of illegal construction.

Acting Prime Minister Olmert is being accused by some of his opponents of using a double standard - demolishing illegal settler construction but ignoring illegal "Arab" construction. Is this accurate?

Opponents of the settlers both inside and outside the government - including Peace Now - have long been accused, usually by settlers and their supporters, of caring only about illegal construction being carried out in the settlements, and ignoring illegal construction by "Arabs." This accusation generally reflects efforts to divert the public's focus from the manifest illegality of settlers' actions.

The recent demolition of nine structures in the illegal outpost of Amona - a direct outcome of a Peace Now petition to the Israeli High Court of Justice (for details see Settlements in Focus, Vol. 2, Issue 3) - has resulted in this accusation being raised again and even more vehemently, especially in the context of the current Israeli election campaign. For example, speaking on Israeli Army Radio, MK Uzi Landau, a staunch supporter of the settlers, stated, "If Olmert had only the rule of law in mind, he would treat everyone equally. The Palestinians build more than 1,000 illegal homes in the Jerusalem region every year. But he (Olmert) takes care of nine homes in Amona."

An examination of Israeli past and current policies and practices in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Arab communities inside Israel, reveals that the accusation is wholly unfounded and that, to the contrary, it is the settlers who have consistently benefited from a double standard.

Does Peace Now maintain a double standard?

Peace Now believes that real security for Israel can only be achieved through peace with its neighbors, including the Palestinians. The organization's mission is to work to promote policies that bring Israel closer to peace, and to fight against short-sighted, dangerous policies that take Israel in the opposite direction. Peace Now does not generally involve itself in any issues that are not directly linked to this mission and mandate, including issues like illegal construction by Palestinians and Israeli Arabs.

Peace Now objects to the settlements for precisely the same reason that many in the settlement movement support them: they prevent the emergence of a viable, contiguous Palestinian state - a state some settlers view as anathema to Israel's existence and future, and a state that Peace Now believes must come into being if Israel has any hope of continuing to exist as a Jewish, democratic state. Peace Now also objects to settlements because they compromise Israel's security. Settlements and settlement outposts stretch Israel's lines of defense, forcing the IDF to shift resources from preventing terrorist attacks in Israel to protecting the lives, homes, and transportation routes of those few Israelis living in the heart of Palestinian populations. Settlements also compromise Israel's ability to build stronger defenses along the Green Line, leaving large numbers of Israelis outside Israel's line of defense, or, where the route of the barrier is contorted to include settlements, sweeping large numbers of Palestinians inside Israel's line of defense. In addition, settlements are a drain on Israel's already beleaguered budget, with significant direct government funding for construction, as well as substantial indirect government funding that affords settlers a wide range of income, education, housing, and transportation subsidies and incentives.

Is this really an issue of rule of law or just another way to attack the settlers?

For decades the settlers have brazenly trampled Israeli law and manipulated the Israeli legal system for their own purposes. Since the inception of the settlement movement in the 1970s, settler leaders and their supporters in successive Israeli governments have systematically subverted Israeli laws and official bodies to support these illegal activities, in the process making a mockery of the rule of law. For more information, see Settlements in Focus Vol. 1, Issue 10, which focuses on the birth of the settlement movement.

It is appropriate to use all available legal tools to confront these illegal actions, including recourse to the Israeli High Court of Justice in the case where the responsible Israeli authorities appear unwilling to enforce Israeli law.

Is illegal construction by Palestinians and Israeli Arabs unimportant to the future of Israel and a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

While illegal construction by Palestinians in the West Bank or East Jerusalem, or by Israeli Arabs inside Israel, may be of serious concern to planners, inspectors, and law enforcement, such construction is not a key element in determining the viability of a future peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

At the same time, some of the complaints of the settlers are very serious and as such, need to be examined. Particularly serious are their claims that Israeli authorities discriminate against the settlers in the enforcement of laws relating to construction and construction violations, while ignoring violations by Palestinians and Arab citizens of Israel. Such complaints cannot simply be dismissed, but merit careful examination to determine if they are true, and if not, what the real story is.

Is it true that settlers are discriminated against in terms of enforcement of laws regarding illegal construction, while "Arab" illegal construction is permitted to flourish?

No. The complaints of the settlers and their supporters are entirely without foundation. An examination of the situation in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Arab population centers inside Israel leads to the inescapable conclusion that the settlers have benefited from discriminatory policies in all aspects of construction: availability of land, provision and flexibility of planning, and availability of building permits. Settlers have also benefited from the virtual absence of enforcement of laws regarding illegal construction.

At the same time, Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and Arab citizens of Israel have faced systematic, formalized discrimination in terms of building permits, planning, and land use, and have suffered from discriminatory enforcement of laws regarding illegal construction.

Is all illegal construction equal?

In a situation where everyone had the same rights and was afforded the same treatment by the government and law enforcement authorities, it would indeed be the case that all illegal construction would be equal. However, in Israel and the West Bank, the situation is not this simple. There are fundamental differences between the illegal construction being carried out in the settlements and outposts on the one hand, and the illegal construction being carried out by Palestinians in the West Bank, Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem, and Arab citizens of Israel, on the other. These difference revolve around the reasons behind the illegal construction, the nature of that construction itself (who is doing it and to whom the land belongs), and the extent to which the law is enforced against the violations and violators. All of these are discussed in greater detail, below.

This raises an important point. In their complaints and accusations, the settlers' advocates raise the specter of unchecked illegal "Arab" construction, failing to distinguish between construction within Israel pre-1967 borders, in East Jerusalem, and in the West Bank. In terms of land use and construction issues, the common denominator for those seeking to play the "Arab" card in Israeli politics is that "Arabs" live in these areas. However, other than this self-evident fact, these areas fall under entirely different legal and/or political regimes, and their land use issues are entirely distinct. Thus, any serious discussion of illegal construction by "Arabs" must look, separately, at the phenomena of illegal construction in the West Bank, in East Jerusalem, and inside the State of Israel.

What is the legal and/or political context in the West Bank?

From 1967 until 1993, Israel had total control over the West Bank. During this period, Israel controlled all aspects of life in these areas. This included control over Palestinian planning and construction, and during this period Israel carried out many home demolitions based both on planning/permit violations and for punitive purposes (e.g., to punish the family of a terrorist).

The 1993 signing of the Oslo Accords changed this situation, dividing the West Bank into three areas: Areas A, B, and C. The vast majority of the Palestinian population of the West Bank resides in areas A and B, which constitute around 40% of the West Bank and in which the Palestinian Authority has civilian control (which includes control over planning and construction). Area C, constituting around 60% of the area of the West Bank, includes all of the Israeli settlements of the West Bank (with the exception of the settlements inside Hebron, which has its own classification, H2, which for all intents and purposes is the same as Area C). Around 250,000 Israelis and around 40,000 Palestinians live in Area C, and Israel retains complete control in this area, including authority over the mechanisms governing Palestinian construction and land allocation.

In 2002 the Israeli human rights organization "B'Tselem" published a report entitled "Land Grab," detailing Israeli policies and practices in the West Bank regarding land use. With respect to land planning and use, the report noted:

"The planning system in the West Bank, which is implemented by the Civil Administration [an arm of the Israeli Defense Ministry], has decisive effect over the map of the West Bank. ...The planning system operates along two separate tracks - one for Jews and the other for Palestinians. While the system works vigorously to establish and expand settlements, it also acts diligently to prevent the expansion of Palestinian towns and villages. ...The Israeli planning system in the West Bank utilized its power to advance the political interests of the Israeli government in power rather than to benefit the local population.

"...Over the years, the main tool used by Israel to restrict building by the Palestinian population outside the borders of the municipalities was simply to refrain from planning. ...As a result, until the transfer of authority to the Palestinian Authority (and to this day, in Area C), two regional plans prepared in the 1940s by the British Mandate continue to apply...Areas in which these plans permitted building, generally around existing built-up areas, were quickly exploited, while most of the area of the West Bank continued to be zoned as 'agricultural areas' or 'nature reserves', where building is prohibited.

"In the early 1990, the Central Planning Bureau of the Civil Administration prepared Special Partial Outline Plans for some 400 villages in the West Bank....Instead of permitting the development of the villages, these plans effectively constituted demarcation plans...Aerial photographs were taken of each village, and a schematic line was then added around the settled area. Construction was prohibited on land outside this line.Applications filed in the past by Palestinian residents to the Civil Administration (and still filed, in the case of Area C) for building on private land outside the area of these plans are almost always rejected. The reasons for the rejections are based both on the demarcation plans (the land is outside the plan area) and on the Mandatory outline plans (the area is zoned for agriculture or a nature reserve). For example, between 1996 and 1999, the Civil Administration issued just 79 building permits. The Civil Administration issued demolition orders against houses built without a permit.

"...almost all the general local outline plans for the settlements are filed with the Supreme Planning Council as an 'amendment to Regional Outline Plan S-15 or RJ-5'. This allows the military planning system to authorize the establishment of new settlements and the expansion of existing ones, on the other hand, without waiving the Mandatory outline plans, which are effectively used to restrict the expansion of Palestinian communities, on the other hand."

(For the complete report, see:

What is the legal and/or political context in East Jerusalem?

Immediately after the end of the 1967 War, Israel announced the expansion of Jerusalem's jurisdiction, particularly east of the Green Line, in the direction of the areas of the West Bank which had been conquered during the war. This expansion added around 70,000 dunams to Jerusalem, land that included 28 Palestinian villages that were home to some 70,000 Palestinians. Over time the Palestinian population of the newly expanded Jerusalem grew, and today, there are around 230,000 Palestinians residing in Jerusalem, constituting over one-third of the city's population.

Almost all of the Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem are not citizens of Israel but rather are considered "permanent residents." They do not have the right to vote for the Knesset, but they do have the right to work in Israel. They are required to pay National Insurance and health taxes, and are eligible to receive social benefits, health services, and National Insurance pensions. They pay income and property taxes, and are entitled to vote in Jerusalem municipal elections and be elected to the city council. In reality, very few Palestinians vote in the municipal elections, believing that to do so could be interpreted as recognition of Israeli rule over East Jerusalem. An inevitable result of this voluntary abstention from municipal elections is that Palestinians of East Jerusalem are largely excluded from decision-making, and their needs are largely ignored or neglected by elected officials.

The phenomenon of illegal construction is widespread in Jerusalem. However, contrary to the statements of settler organizations (many of whom are dedicated to efforts to take over all of East Jerusalem), most of this illegal construction is in the Jewish sector. A 2004 report prepared by "Bimkom" (a highly-respected Israeli non-governmental organization which focuses on planning rights) in collaboration with the "Ir Shalem" (a highly respected Israeli non-governmental organization, no longer in operation, that dealt with issues related to Jerusalem) detailed official data from the Municipality of Jerusalem. This data showed that 82% of the construction registered between 1996 and 2001 was in Jewish neighborhoods of the city, compared to only 18% in the Arab neighborhoods. Regarding the issue of land and construction in Jerusalem, the Bimkom/Ir Shalem report noted:

"In June 1967, following the annexation of the eastern portion of the city to the jurisdiction limits of Jerusalem, approx. 69,000 Palestinian residents were added to the city. The result was that the relative percentage of Jewish population in the city dropped from 97% to 74%. In 1973, the Israeli government adopted the inter-ministerial committee's recommendation to examine the rate of development in Jerusalem (the Gafni Committee) in order to maintain 'the relative ratio of Jews and Arabs to the levels of late 1972', that is, 73.5% Jews and 25.5 Palestinians. Over the years, the Ministerial Committee for Jerusalem Affairs repeatedly approved this objective as the guiding principle for determining planning policy in Jerusalem...This principle is called the 'demographic balance' by policy makers and planners.

".The attempt to maintain the 'demographic balance' has been expressed throughout the years, not only through development and accelerated construction in the Jewish neighborhoods in order to increase the number of Jewish residents in the city, but also an attempt to limit - in fact or by omission - development and construction for the Palestinian population. The attempt to maintain a 'demographic balance' in face of the more rapid natural growth among the Palestinian population strikes at the accepted planning considerations and distorts them. In fact, the 'demographic balance' has been the cause for the limits placed upon construction by the Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem."

(For the full report available in Hebrew only, see:

What is the political and/or legal context in Arab communities inside pre-1967 Israel?

There is a great deal of illegal construction taking place inside Israel, both in the Jewish and Arab sectors. According to Israel's Ministry of Interior there are presently 16,000-17,000 illegal houses in the Jewish sector, and around 30,000 in the Arab/Bedouin sector. The majority of the latter are in the Bedouin sector, which is dealt with in detail below.

Today, there are over one million Arab citizens of Israel, constituting about 20% of Israel's citizens. They live primarily in three main regions: the Lower and Upper Galilee, the "Triangle" (stretching from Wadi 'Ara to Kafr Kassem), and the Negev. Human rights and civil rights organizations inside Israel - as well as official Israeli government commissions and studies - have documented the systematic neglect and discrimination these communities have faced since 1948. Such neglect and discrimination has extended to land use, construction permits, and zoning regulations. Following the October 2000 confrontations between Israeli security forces and Arab citizens of Israel in some of these communities (which resulted in the deaths of 12 Arab citizens of Israel and one Gaza resident), the government of Israel established the Orr Commission - a high-level commission of inquiry charged with examining the events and their causes. The Commission's report, released in September 2003, included extensive discussion of the issues of land and land use, noting:

"...During the first years of its existence, the State appropriated extensive areas of Arab lands. ...The lands were transferred to the possession of groups, such as the Jewish National Fund and by definition, were earmarked to serve the Jewish settlement, or to the Israel Lands Administration, which, by virtue of definition, served the same purposes. Hundreds of Jewish settlements arose on confiscated land, including new cities such as Upper Nazareth and Karmiel...One of the results of these actions was a drastic reduction in the amount of land belonging to the Arab settlements. For example, during the Mandate period and until the end of the 1970's, there were approx. 70,000 dunams of 'village lands' in [the Israeli Arab town of] Sakhnin. By the end of the last century, the jurisdiction extended to 9,700 dunams, and the area of the urban master plan was only 4,450 dunams. As a result, and part of the urban master plan, there remained only 191 sq.m. per person in Sakhnin, while in Karmiel, the ratio was 524 sq.m. per person."

With respect to land use and construction by Arab citizens of Israel, the Orr Commission's report noted:

"Many Arab villages were surrounded by security regions, Jewish Regional Councils, national parks and nature reserves, highways, etc., which prevented, or at least reduced the possibility of their expanding in the future. The need for areas dedicated to industry and businesses, commercial areas and public buildings has increased with the growth of population in the Arab settlements. Many villages do not have a reserve of land required for this.

"The main obstacle to building residences within the area of Arab settlements was the lack of outline plans and master plans. The preparations and update of such plans is always time-consuming, but sometimes, in the Arab sector, there were unreasonable delays. One can also add the lack of effective Arab representation in the planning and construction committees. Arab representatives were not allowed to participate in the national and the regional committees, or they were only allowed symbolic representation. In many cases, local committees were not even established in Arab settlements and instead, they were attached to district committees that were run by Jews. The result was that decisions with regard to the development of Arab settlements were not very sensitive to the needs of the Arab population. Even after plans were accelerated the 1990's, at the end of the century, approx. half of the Arab settlements did not have an approved master plan enabling them to expand their built-up area, and most of them did not have an approved outline plan.

"As a result, in large sections of the jurisdiction, owners of private lands were unable to build houses legally. The phenomenon of building without a permit spread widely, partly as a direct result of not being able to receive building permits. This was orderly illegal construction, usually of two-family houses. Demolition injunctions were issued against Arab houses in the Galilee, the Negev, in the Triangle and in the mixed cities."

With respect to Arab citizens of Israel who are part of the Bedouin sector, the Orr Commission's report also touches on the inherent conflict between a centralized, modern state and those groups who wish to retain a nomadic or semi-nomadic ways of life:

"There has existed a land dispute between the State and the Bedouins since the first days of the existence of the State. Government policy strived to register most of the land used by the Bedouins in the Galilee and in the Negev in its [the State's] name, and to concentrate the Bedouins in a number of designed settlements. The Bedouins opposed this policy, claiming their right to the land. The State invested efforts in attempts to reach settlements regarding the disputed land, but until 2000, settlements were only reached regarding 140,000 dunams, only a small portion of the disputed land."

The Report also drew attention to another largely unknown aspect of the land conflict - the issue of unrecognized Arab towns:

"Another problem, and one which affects mainly Bedouin citizens, is the problem of Arab communities that have not been officially recognized by the Ministry of the Interior....Since the communities are not recognized, they have not been provided with infrastructures or services, and in many places, there is no running water, electricity, roads or sewage, and there are no health clinics or schools. A few of these communities in the North have been recognized retroactively. The great majority of the residents of these unrecognized communities were required to move to a number of centralized communities that had been planned for them. The State acted to enforce the law in those communities and in the areas used by their residents, usually by submitting legal demands to remove them from the area and implementing demolition injunctions for hundreds of houses."

The following lines, also taken from the Orr Commission Report, are worth reading carefully:

"Beyond disputes over specific areas, there are apprehensions within the Arab sector with regard to the State's intentions in this matter. The voices which are heard from within Jewish society regarding the need to 'Judaicize' regions which contain large concentrations of Arab population, and of the 'demographic danger' which exists there, have given rise to a feeling of insecurity. The removal of Arabs from competent planning institutions has increased the suspicions."

The Orr Commission's report can be viewed (in Hebrew) at:

A summary of the report in English can be viewed at:

Given all of the above, how can we compare illegal construction?

Illegal construction can be analyzed and compared on the basis of four questions: Why are the people building illegally? Who is building? Where are they building? And what is the status of law enforcement efforts in response to this illegal construction?

Why are people building illegally?

Settlers: For decades the settlers have been granted large areas of West Bank land on which build and expand sprawling settlements (where the ratio of land to people exceeds that of any Palestinian village) - land designated for their exclusive use. Illegal construction by the settlers generally reflects not the absence of the opportunity to build legally, but a deliberate decision to flout Israeli law for political and ideological reasons. Their goal, in these cases, is to seize, by whatever means necessary, the maximum amount of land, with the implicit and sometimes explicit collusion of Israeli authorities.

West Bank Palestinians: Illegal Palestinian construction in Area C can be attributed mainly to the existence of a body of policies that make legal construction, even to meet the natural growth needs of Palestinian communities, virtually impossible. Despite the fact that the Palestinian public accounts for over 90% of the West Bank population (approx. 2.5 million inhabitants), they are effectively barred from construction on 60% of the land, due to Israeli zoning and planning policies. As a result, the Palestinians have very little area on which they may legally build, and even in these areas, they are generally unable to receive construction permits from Israel (including permits to build on land they own, and whose ownership Israel does not dispute). An interesting exception to this rule is the case of the Palestinian "outpost" near the village of Bil'in - where Palestinians have erected a structure on privately-owned Palestinian land for the express purpose of demonstrating the double standards Israel employs with respect to building violations in Area C (i.e., the Palestinian "outpost" was demolished within hours of being erected, while outposts erected by Jewish settlers are allowed to remain in place until the High Court of Justice forces the State to take action). For details of the Palestinian outpost, see Settlements in Focus, Vol. 2, Issue 1.

Palestinians in East Jerusalem: Since 1967, the Government of Israel and the Jerusalem municipality have imposed policies and practices designed to limit the number of Palestinians in Jerusalem and block the expansion of their neighborhoods. Indeed, the "natural growth" needs often cited by the settlers as a pretext for new settlement construction are not only neglected in urban planning for East Jerusalem Palestinians, but for decades the planning has expressly worked to thwart such growth. Massive land expropriations for Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem, withholding of updated neighborhood plans (without which neighborhoods cannot expand), and rejection of applications for new construction on private land, have left very little opportunity for legal construction in the Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem.

Arab citizens of Israel: Illegal construction carried out by Israeli Arabs is, first and foremost, the result of longstanding discriminatory policies and practices of the State of Israel, as described by the Orr Commission. These include zoning practices, land expropriations, and denial of building permits.

Who is doing the building?

Settlers: As documented in the Sasson report - a comprehensive report on illegal settlement outposts written by Attorney Talia Sasson, from the Attorney General's office, at the request of Prime Minister Sharon (for more details see: - most illegal settler construction is undertaken by settlers, in coordination with their own local authorities (e.g., regional councils which are recognized by and receive funding from the Government of Israel), allies within government ministries, and quasi-governmental agencies like the World Zionist Organization (WZO). Such construction is sometimes even funded by or through such official bodies. Moreover, such illegal construction is aided and abetted by Israeli official bodies and agents, some of whom are the same ones who should be enforcing construction and planning laws. Such aid includes turning a blind eye to illegal construction, approving illegal construction after the fact, and supporting and subsidizing the illegal construction through the provision of security, roads, and other infrastructure.

West Bank Palestinians: Palestinian illegal construction in the West Bank is private, undertaken generally by the owners of the land for their own use, and privately financed.

Palestinians in East Jerusalem: Like in the West Bank, Palestinian illegal construction in East Jerusalem is private - landowners building on their own land and financing their own construction.

Arab citizens of Israel: Illegal construction in Israel's Arab sector is private - initiated and financed generally by the owners of the land in question.

Where is the illegal construction occurring?

Settlers: Most of the illegal construction by the settlers is carried out on State land, survey land (where the question of ownership is still being verified), and privately-owned Palestinian land. Thus, the crime is not only one of lack of building permits, but illegal use of lands that do not belong to the settlers, and in the case of privately-owned Palestinian land, outright land theft.

West Bank Palestinians: Most Palestinian illegal construction in the West Bank is carried out on land that is Palestinian-owned, the crime being one of a lack of permits, rather than use of land that does not belong to them.

Palestinians in East Jerusalem: In East Jerusalem, the vast majority of illegal construction by Palestinians is taking place on land privately owned by the Palestinians. The crime here, again, is the lack of permits, rather than use of land that does not belong to them.

Arab citizens of Israel: Setting aside the case of the Bedouin (who dispute land ownership with the State), illegal construction in Israel's Arab sector is nearly always carried out on privately-owned lands, by the legal owners of those lands. Here again, the crime is the lack of permits, rather than use of land that does not belong to them.

Is the law enforced equally regarding illegal construction?

Settlers: With the notable exception of the nine structures demolished in January 2006 at the illegal outpost of Amona, the Civil Administration never carries out demolition orders against buildings illegally erected by settlers, even while the State admits that there are thousands of houses in settlements that have been constructed illegally (as discussed in the Sasson Report).

West Bank Palestinians: There is very active enforcement of law regarding illegal Palestinian construction in the West Bank. According to the Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions (ICAHD), the Civil Administration reported that in the five years between the beginning of 2000 and the end of 2004, 1000 civil demolition orders were carried out in the occupied territories. Since orders sometimes include multiple structures, it is likely that the actual number of buildings demolished is much higher (this number does not include buildings that were demolished in order to punish terrorists and their families, or for security reasons).

Palestinians in East Jerusalem: There is very active enforcement of law against illegal construction in Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem. During 2005 alone (when not a single permanent illegal settler structure was demolished in the West Bank), the Jerusalem municipality demolished approximately 100 Palestinians homes in East Jerusalem for the crime of being built without permits. Over the past five years, an estimated 450 Palestinian-owned homes have been demolished in East Jerusalem.

It is instructive, in this case, to also compare the law enforcement practices regarding illegal construction in the Jerusalem's Palestinian sector versus enforcement in Jerusalem's Jewish sector. As discussed earlier, official figures provided by the Municipality reveal that the majority of construction violations in Jerusalem are in the Jewish sector (82% in the Jewish sector vs. 18% in the Arab sector for 1996-2001). However, Municipality figures also reveal that this ratio was reversed with respect to enforcement against illegal construction during the same period - with 80% of the demolitions that are carried out occurring in the Palestinian sector, versus 20% in the Jewish sector.

Arab citizens of Israel: An expert opinion submitted to the Orr Commission by the prominent Israeli geographer Professor Oren Yiftahel details some of the clear evidence of discrimination with respect to land use inside Israel, noting that: Arabs constitute almost 20% of Israel's citizens, but the jurisdiction of the Arab townships only covers 2.5% of the country's area; 80% of the State's lands are, in effect, blocked from use by the Arab population; and since Israel was established in 1948, the State of Israel has not permitted the establishment of any new Arab townships, with the exception of Bedouin townships in the Negev (part of the effort to forcefully "settle" the Bedouin population). This is in contrast to the 700 new Jewish townships Yiftahel reports have been established (for the full text of Professor Yiftahel's opinion, see:
. This is also clearly in contrast to the easy access settlers have to land, planning, and construction permits.

In addition, it is estimated that approximately 70,000 Arab citizens of Israel reside in villages - some of which have been existence since before 1948 - which the State of Israel refuses to "recognize." As a result, the State considers these villages illegal and refuses to link them up to infrastructure or provide basic services. On the other hand, the State has recognized dozens of illegal settlement outposts by them granting them post-facto legality, and even those outposts that have not been recognized are often linked, with the collusion of some State authorities, to infrastructure and basic services. As reported in the Sasson Report, illegal construction by settlers enjoys the help and finance of the very authorities who are supposed to be enforcing the law.

Produced by Dror Etkes, Settlements Watch Director, Peace Now (Israel), and
Lara Friedman, Government Relations Director, Americans for Peace Now