Illegal Israeli Settlements
Illegal Israeli Settlements (Colonies) and the road to full Annexation.
"Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, are illegal and an obstacle to peace and to economic and social development [... and] have been established in breach of international law."
(International Court of Justice Ruling 09/07/2004)
There are over 600,000 illegal Israeli settlers living in the West bank and East Jerusalem. The policy of moving Israelis and Jewish people from around the world into settlements is in breach of international law. According to Convention (IV) re the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War. Geneva, 12 August 1949. an occupying power "shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies."
UN Resolution 242 calls for Israel’s withdraw from the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and the Golan Heights deeming these occupations illegal under international law. UN Security Council Resolution 446 (1979) stated "that the policy and practices of Israel in establishing settlements in the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967 have no legal validity and constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East."
What are illegal settlements?
The Illegal Settlements are residential, industrial and farming colonies, built on Palestinian land, and annexed/ occupied with the approval and direct or indirect support of the Israeli government. They are serviced by the Israeli state and protected by both the Israeli army and armed settlers, usually located on hill tops or high fertile ground and surrounded by ‘security’ barriers or walls. They range from Ma’ale Adumim, east of Jerusalem, which is a suburban twn of 40,000 people with a shopping centre, schools, recreation centre and its own mayor, to a settlement enclave in the heart of the Palestinian city of Hebron where 800 settlers live under Israeli army protection since it was established in 1967.
Ma’ale Adumim, Beitar Illit, Modi’in Illit and Ariel have been granted the municipal status of a city by the Israeli Government and their designation as ‘settlement blocs’ by the Israeli state identify them as centres for further population expansion. Furthermore, Ma’ale Adumim, which was started in 1976, forms part of an expanding concentric circle around Jerusalem, cutting East Jerusalem off from the West Bank and effectively dividing the West Bank in half, creating an obstacle between Bethlehem and Ramallah. Incentives offered to those relocating in settlements include a range low house rents and mortgage repayments, grants to industry and tax breaks.
More recently, Israeli President Netanyahu has begun discussing the Annexation of illegal settlements within the West Bank, declaring them as part of the 'Great State of Israel'. This is, of course, against International Law.
Violence and Settlers
Settler violence has long since become part of Palestinians’ daily life under occupation. Israeli security forces enable these actions, which result in Palestinians casualties – injuries and fatalities – as well as damage to land and property. In some cases, they even serve as an armed escort, or even join in the attacks. Investigations, if even opened, are usually closed with no action taken against perpetrators as part of an undeclared policy of leniency. The long-term effect of this violence is the dispossession of Palestinians from increasing parts of the West Bank, making it easier for Israel to take over land and resource. While settlers enjoy all the rights of Israeli citizenship, Palestinians live under the military rule of an occupying force and often have to contend with the violence of settlers who act with impunity under Israeli law
The permit system, demolitions and harassment
Israel employs a complex bureaucratic system of permit control over Palestinians. There are over 48 types of permits, including permits for medical access, work permits, access to seam zone Palestinian land permits and permits for donkeys crossing the so called seam zone to work on Palestinian land. Permits for Palestinians wishing to build or retain structures on their land are required but rarely granted. In 2014-16, a grand total of one building permit was issued to a Palestinian resident of Area C. This results in Palestinians building illegal structures, from houses to schools and mosques, due to lack of permits, and the IDF issuing demolition orders for them. These demolition orders are currently active for over 12,000 structures impacting over 200,000 Palestinians, which is untenable from a security and humanitarian perspective. This permit system is used as a tool to depopulate areas which are then repopulated by illegal colonisers.
Water – use of a scarce resource
While water to the settlements flows freely, it is severely rationed to Palestinians living in the West Bank. According to Bt’selem is the Israeli Information Centre for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, established in 1989 by a group of prominent academics, attorneys, journalists, and Knesset members. Bt’selem website (External Link)
Palestinian households receive an average of 60 litres per day (40 litres below WHO (World Health Organisation) recommends “as the set minimum amount of water needed to meet household and urban needs…”) while settlers receive 280 litres per day. Settlements have swimming pools and sprinkler-watered lawns while Palestinians households, businesses and farmers receive rationed supplies of water. Effluent waste material from some settlements flow untreated into land owned by Palestinians without penalty or censure.
In addition to settlements, there are hundreds of outposts dotted around the West Bank, in many cases used by the Israeli State as the first stage in the establishment of new settlements.
The domination of the West Bank’s transport infrastructure by the Israeli army/state acts as a stranglehold which severely restricts Palestinians going about their everyday business. Settler only roads area part of the Apartheid system which Israel oversees.
As part of the construction of settlements, outposts and roads, many olive trees and orchards have been destroyed. Some of the olive trees date back several hundred years and are not only a key economic resource, but represent an important symbol for Palestinians of their connection to their ancestral lands. Furthermore, the West Bank is surrounded by a Security/Apartheid Wall (Sadaka Factsheet: The Wall). Settlements, outposts, checkpoints, roadblocks and the apartheid wall are integrated parts of the military occupation and strategy of the Israeli state to transform the demographics of the West Bank.Illegal colonies and settlement and the Zionist settlement expansion project were understood as constituting ‘facts on the ground’ as permanent fixtures to be used as bargaining chips by the Israeli state in negotiations with Palestinians on a political settlement. With the continued threat of Complete Annexation, the declaration of the Golan Heights as part of Israel and Jerusalem as the capital, there seems to be little need for negotiating chips or indeed any negotiations whjatsoever.
"A viable Palestinian state is impossible to create without a full dismantlement of settlements and their population from the West Bank to the pre-1967 borders” (21/08/2009)." MIFTAH
Sources and References