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Date: Tue, 21 May 1996 21:21:08 GMT
Sender: Activists Mailing List <ACTIV-L@MIZZOU1.MISSOURI.EDU>
From: rbleier@igc.apc.org
Subject: FMEP: Israeli Land Confiscation Escalates

Israeli land confiscations since Oslo

From Foundation for Middle East Peace,
Report on Israeli Settlement in the Occupied Territories,
Vol. 6, no. 3, 27 February 1996

According to Palestinian sources, Israel has confiscated almost one-quarter million dunams* throughout the West Bank since the Oslo accords were signed in September 1993. Most of these actions have proceeded on the basis of confiscation orders issued before 1992. Construction of numerous bypass roads throughout the West Bank has entailed the confiscation of an additional 16,000 to 20,000 duna ms. The latter confiscations proceeded according to an agreement reached with the Palestinian Authority. Settlers have unilaterally taken an additional 23,000 dunams, according to the Land and Water Establishment for Studies and Legal Services in Jerusalem.

These actions, and in particular the continuing construction of bypass roads, have elicited sporadic, popular Palestinian protests, as well as complaints by Palestinian officials.

It was agreed that this [settlement] issue should be postponed to the final status negotiations, explained Ahmad Quray, minister of the economy of the Palestinian Authority, provided that neithe r side takes measures which would harm the other side's rights or tries to change the situation on the ground. What we have now is land seizure on the pretext of building bypass roads, and expansio n of the settlements, despite former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's promise that no settlement's boundaries will extend further than 50 meters beyond the last house in it. Worse still is the fact t hat Israeli Housing Minister Ben-Eliezer is now an expert at announcing new confiscation and new projects for building Israeli homes on Palestinian land. With regard to Jerusalem, there is an attem pt to stifle it and isolate it from the other Palestinian areas by setting up road blocks and attempting to limit Palestinian activity there.


Amana, the settlement arm of the Council of Jewish Settlements in Judea, Samaria, and the Gaza Strip [YESHA] has prepared an extensive $4 billion construction plan to more than triple the settler p opulation in the occupied territories to 500,000 by the year 2,000.

This grandiose plan is in the spirit of settlement programs advocated by settlers and their patrons in the Likud and National Religious Party (NRP) since the early 1970s. While most schemes did not reach their stated goals, they did succeed in determining the direction of settlement efforts during the rule of both Labor and Likud governments. Even if the Likud forms the next Israeli governme nt, it is unlikely that Israel's housing sector could manage the precipitous expansion outlined in the plan.

Written in the expectation of taking quick advantage of a Likud victory in elections at the end of this month, the plan aims to create additional facts on the ground that will preclude an expansi on of Palestinian control significantly beyond the 28 percent of the West Bank (Areas A and B) and 70 percent of the Gaza Strip that the Palestinian Authority currently controls.

It is necessary to concentrate settlement resources according to the premise that after the elections a government desirous of continuing settlement will be established, noted the settlement plan. The size of these communities, the connection between them, and their access to centers of Jewish population [i.e., Israel] will greatly influence their status in the eyes of the Israeli public- -and therefore exert a direct influence on the political decisions that will be made in the coming years.

Under the direction of Amana leader Ze'ev Hever, a small group of settlers, as well as politicians like Ariel Sharon, were mobilized soon after the Oslo accords were signed in September 1993 to dra w up a blueprint for large-scale settlement. They have prepared, at great cost, computer generated maps incorporating extensive aerial photos of the region. The maps are not yet publicly available. Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu has been presented with the plan as have members of the NRP.

The plan, however, has been crafted in such a way as to enable it, with some modification, to be adopted by a Peres government as well. It is based upon expanding the existing settlement infrastruc ture, particularly by thickening the larger settlements, and aims at exploiting the opportunities for settlement growth opened by the creation of the extensive series of bypass roads (costing $60 0 million in 1995) developed in the wake of the Oslo agreement.

The road plan has transformed many settlements around Jerusalem into suburbs of the city, and today a ready market awaits new construction in settlements like Kokav Ya'acov, Psagot, and Adam. The bypass road plan, Hever explained, even without intention, has given settlement in Judea and Samaria a big boost.

The settlement movement appears prepared to accept at least nominal Palestinian control in Areas A and B, where the Palestinian Authority has exercised a measure of control since late 1995. None of the anticipated settlement expansion is located on lands in either area. The twelve new settlements called for in the plan were approved before 1992 during the Shamir era. Like the anticipated exp ansion of existing settlements, they were to be located on lands either declared as state lands by the Shamir government or within the master plan boundaries of existing settlements. The Palestinia n Authority, in the Oslo II accords, recognized Israel's legal rights over state lands.

The anticipated growth of settlements is to be achieved without large-scale public sector participation or concessional financing in housing construction. Amana is depending on the private sector t o respond to market demand for new housing in settlements throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The government is being asked to continue to provide mortgages to purchasers at competitive rates.

By refraining from the obvious use of public funds to satisfy the natural growth of settlements, Amana has thus crafted a program geared not to elicit strong U.S. protest.


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. . .nothing will change the fact that East Jerusalem is occupied Palestinian territory and that the settlements are hostile and illegal actions. The U.S. side has a great moral responsibility: F irst, as a superpower, second, as the main sponsor of the peace process, and third, as the host on whose soil all agreements were signed. In my view, the U.S. side has not made a satisfactory. . .effort to put an end to Israeli violations, especially with regard to Jerusalem and the settlements issue. . . . The previous U.S. Administration made it a condition of issuing of the credit guara ntees. . .that none of these funds would be spent on settlements or construction in the occupied territories. Ahmad Quray, minister of the economy in the Palestinian Authority, in Al-Quds Al-'Arabi.