The majority of Israeli settlements have been constructed either entirely or partially on private Palestinian land, in violation of Israeli law itself, according to a new report by Peace Now, one of the oldest peace movements in Israel that monitors Israel settlements in the West Bank. Based on data from a 2004 survey by the Civil Administration, which was leaked to Peace Now through an official in the CA, the report found that nearly 40% of the land the settlements sit on is effectively stolen from Palestinian landowners. Settlements in the occupied West Bank are illegal under international law, but Israel has long 'rejected' this. Some 430,000 Jews live in these residential areas in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Read the full report (pdf)
aerial photo of the Ma'ale Adumim settlement in the West Bank
Summary of the findings
- For the first time Peace Now is able to prove, that despite the State and settler's claims, the majority of the settlements in the West Bank have been constructed on private Palestinian land and not on State land.
- 130 settlements were constructed either entirely or partially on private Palestinian land.
- Around 60 thousand dunams of the land used by the settlements is actually private Palestinian land.
- Private Palestinian land accounts for 40% of land used for settlements.
- Construction of settlements of private Palestinian land is illegal according to the Supreme Court ruling, (Elon More precedent of 1979), and thus cannot be authorized. The result is that not only were the outposts constructed in an illegal manner, but also a large number of the veteran settlements were established on private Palestinian land and are thus illegal.
- The data presented here has been hidden by the State for many years, for fear that the revelation of these facts could damage it's international relations. Only recently did Peace Now manage to obtain this material.
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.