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Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Israeli Settlement Enterprise

By the Applied Research Institute of Jerusalem (ARIJ)

The injustice in occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) will continue as long as people are unable to get their hold on their God given rights on this land. Following the 1967 war and the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip; Palestinians faced an Israeli package of policies that aim to eradicate their rightful inhabitant of the land. To this end, Israel launched its settlement program right after the war starting from the heart of the oPt from the Old City of Jerusalem, demolishing more than 700 Palestinian Jerusalemites houses and established what came to known as the “Jewish” Quarter. From that point on, Israelis continued to build and expand settlements relentlessly and in a continuous matter that it built to this day 196 Israeli settlements accommodating approximately 750,000 Israeli settlers. The settlements stand as a built-up area on 196 km square and have a jurisdiction area of 485 km square (3,5% and 8.5%) respectively of the West Bank total area.

To accommodate the settlers occupation the oPt, the Israeli Civil Administration (ICA) constructed in length a 939 km web of roads  and called them bypass roads to facilitate the settlers movements within the Opt and beyond the 1949 Armistice Line (AKA: the Green Line). The purpose of such roads is to create two separate roads systems one for the Palestinians and the other for the Israelis.  In 1996, the Israeli government and ICA indirectly facilitated the establishment of 232 outpost that exist in close proximity to settlements in an attempt from Israeli radicals youth to take whatever land they can before any arrangements are concluded with the Palestinians. These radical Israeli youths come from settlers’ background and have carried out organized attacks against Palestinians and their properties and places of worships particularly in the past few years. 898 is the number of Israeli settlers’ attacks on Palestinian and their properties, fields, religious sites among others during the year 2015 (20% increase from 2014), of which 373 attacks (42%) were recorded since the onset of the Palestinians’ protests of October 2015. The escalating attacks certainly reflected negatively on the peace process as many witnesses and indications show the Israeli military providing protection for the settlers and the government manipulating legal issues for cover-ups.

Furthermore, the Israeli occupation took all possible measures and steps to fortify its grip on the oPt and established some 210 military bases on a total area of 49 km square and have taken control of 1580 km square (28% of the total West Bank Area) along the eastern side of the West Bank under various pretexts starting from declaring parts as “state land”, “closed military areas; including firing zones”, “nature reserve areas” down to being classified as area “C”. Israel established in the eastern zone area 38 Israeli settlements, 20 of which are classified as agricultural settlements; cultivating 65000 km square of the Jordan Valley area within the eastern zone. Between the 9000+ Israeli settlers living in the eastern zone and the cultivated lands, the Israelis use some 45 MCM of water, which counts for some one-third of the total use of the entire West Bank Palestinian population of 2.6 million. A World Bank report indicates that continued Palestinian inaccessibility to agricultural land and water resources continues to carry significant opportunity losses in terms of output and employment. Irrigated agriculture is an important economic sector, contributing about 12% to GDP and employing 117,000 people.

Also, to enforce their will and practice the false jurisdiction in the oPt, the ICA demolished Palestinian houses, which came simultaneously with Israeli systematic forced eviction policy of Palestinians in area “C” throughout the West Bank including East Jerusalem. While in the latter, the party that carryout the demolition and thus the eviction is the Israeli Municipality of Jerusalem and the Israeli Ministry of Interior, in other areas of the West Bank (area “C”) the Israeli Civil Administration carryout the demolition and eviction orders, hence, all demolishing are forced eviction and displacement of Palestinians. To this day, Israel demolished more than 25000 Palestinian houses in the oPt, in addition to more than 20,000 houses with pending demolishing orders.

settlement1On 28 September 1995, the Palestinian liberation Organization (PLO) and Israel signed the second Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip commonly known as Oslo II or the Taba Agreement. It classified the Opt to various levels of control:

Area “A” (1,005 km Square 17.7% of the West Bank Area) and it designates Palestinian absolute autonomy over administrative and security issues and include the main Palestinian cities.

Area “B” (1,035 km Square 18.3%) and it designates Palestinians civil/ administrative responsibilities on education, health and restricted development. It includes populated rural areas, many of which close to the main cities of the West Bank.

Area “C” (3456 km Square 61%), where the status quo of the occupation remains as is and Israel retain full control.

While the vast majority of the Palestinian population (83.5%) lives in areas “A” and “B”, the vast vacant land available for construction to cope with the Palestinian population growth and for investment opportunities is situated in the bulk area (61%) of the West Bank defined as area “C”, which is the only remaining area available for the Palestinians to realize a sustainable and able state

It is easily concluded that both areas “A” and “B” (36% of the West Bank area) are already congested with a population density exceeding 4620 per 1km verses population density of 1546 Israeli settlers within the approved master plans of the settlements.

On June 2002, the Israeli Government launched its policy of unilateral segregation within the oPt. The Israeli Ministry of Defense injected several changes to the route of the Segregation Wall over the years, many of which accrued after the International Court of Justice "Advisory Opinion" in 2004 that referred to the Segregation Wall as an illegal structure in oPt, and thus called upon Israel to dismantle it. According to the final route of the Wall as of September 2007, it will stretch a length of 773 km and stands to isolate some 733 km² (733 thousands Dunums/ 73300 hectare), 13% of the total area of the West Bank. The area of the West Bank to be isolated will include 103 Israeli settlements accommodating approximately 600,000 Israeli settlers, on the other hand it stand to isolate 66 Palestinian communities including those of East Jerusalem with a population exceeding 300,000 Palestinians from their natural environment in the oPt. The Israeli actions in the West Bank conform to what the Head of Israeli opposition leader Isaac Herzog calls: a total separation from Palestinians. According to him: it is imperative for Israel to build the Wall to validate once and for all that “Unified Jerusalem” is the capital of Israel and who ever lives on the other side of the Wall is not a citizen of Israel, noting examples of Issaweyiah and Shu’fat Refugee Camp. This also apply on Kfar Aqab and couple dozen of communities on the outskirts of Jerusalem, which ultimately include some 150,000+ Palestinian Jerusalemites.settlement2

Ultimately, Palestinians will remain living such unjust condition as long as the international community remains in incapable and in an immobilized status to take tangible actions to stop the Israeli acts on the ground.

Israel is sparing no opportunity to take advantage of the circumstances that surrounds its existence. It carryout steps that serves its long-term plan to create an independent Jewish state, in spite of its claim of being the only democracy and secular state in the Middle East. To this end, Israel persists to pave the way to take unilateral steps to create a Palestinian state tailored to its interests chained by the 500+ various types of obstacles controlling the movement of the people and the borders to the outside world. It uses whatever possible means to realize its goals; starting with multiple turmoil storming the region, and turbulences in the relations among the big players in the international arena, right down to the division of the Palestinians and even its own settlers’ greed to quench it thirst for more stolen Palestinians’ rights.

 

About ARIJ:

Founded in 1990, the Applied Research Institute - Jerusalem (ARIJ) / Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting sustainable development in the occupied Palestinian territory and the self-reliance of the Palestinian people through greater control over their natural resources. ARIJ works specifically to augment the local stock of scientific and technical knowledge and to introduce and devise more efficient methods of resource utilization and conservation, improved practices, and appropriate technology. Website

 

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