The Full Wiki

Israeli settlement: Map


Wikipedia article:

Map showing all locations mentioned on Wikipedia article:

Israeli settlements are Israelimarker civilian communities in the Israeli-occupied territories (lands that were captured from Egyptmarker, Jordanmarker, and Syriamarker by Israel during the 1967 Six-Day War). Such settlements currently exist in the West Bankmarker, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heightsmarker. The latter two areas are governed under Israeli civil law but are considered to be under military occupation by the international community.

Eighteen settlements formerly existed in the Sinai Peninsulamarker and twenty-one in the Gaza Stripmarker. All were abandoned as part of Israel's withdrawal from these areas in 1982 and 2005, respectively.

As of May 2009, there were 280,000 Israeli citizens living in 121 settlements in the West Bank, and 190,000 in East Jerusalem. Settlements range in their character from farming communities to suburbs to frontier villages, and, in the case of East Jerusalem, city neighborhoods. The three largest settlements, Modi'in Illitmarker, Maale Adumimmarker and Betar Illitmarker, are cities with over 30,000 residents each. Some settlements, such as those of Gush Etzionmarker, are rebuilt on the sites of modern Jewish communities destroyed in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War or prior conflicts.

The United Nations and other major international bodies consider the settlements a violation of international law, though this is disputed by Israel and some legal scholars. The position of the United Statesmarker has been mixed. Under Israeli law, West Bank settlements must meet specific criteria to be legal; unauthorized communities which do not meet these criteria exist and are called illegal outposts.

Israeli policies toward these settlements have ranged from active promotion to removal by force, and their continued existence and expansion since the 1970s is one of the most contentious issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.


  • In Hebrew, the common term for the Israeli settlements outside the Green Linemarker is hitnakhluyot (Hebrew: התנחלויות; singular התנחלות/hitnakhlut, hitnakhalut). This term, was introduced when the Likud party came to power in 1977, 'evoking Biblical injunctions and promises to "inherit" the land through settlement'; it officially replaced the earlier and emotionally neutral word hityashvut. Associated with this change, the Likud also prohibited use in news reports of the terms Occupied Territorymarker and West Bankmarker, to describe where the settlements were built. The terms Land of Israel, Judeamarker and Samariamarker were to be used officially instead. The term hitnakhluyot is still widely used in the media and in public, although some think it has acquired a derogatory connotation in recent years. The settlers themselves are called mitnakhalim (Hebrew: מתנחלים; singular - מתנחל/mitnakhel). Most settlers, their supporters, and most official Israeli government references use the term yishuvim (יישובים; singular - יישוב/yishuv) for settlements and mityashvim (מתיישבים; singular - מתיישב/mityashev) for settlers. These terms evoke a continuation of earlier Zionist settlement history, and refer to pre-state settlements inside Israelmarker as well. The English term "settler" is also often associated primarily with the Religious Zionist movement, while other religious settler populations (such as the Haredi residents of Betar Illitmarker and Modi'in Illitmarker) do not associate themselves with this Zionist term.

  • In Arabic, settlements are called mustawtanaat (Arabic: المستوطنات), and settlers are mustawtineen (مستوطنين). Mustamaraat (مستعمرات) is another term used among Palestinians, which translates literally as colonies; from the Palestinian point of view, most settlers are considered foreigners to Palestine.

  • The official Israeli government term for the district encompassing West Bank settlements is Judea and Samaria. These names for two sub-regions, first documented in Assyrian inscriptions from the 8th Century BC, derive from the biblical Israelite kingdoms of the same name in the area and were resurrected for use by the Israeli government after its occupation of the area in 1967. This change in terminology, reflected a historic attachment to these areas and rejection of the 'West Bank' name that was seen as implying Jordanian sovereignty over them.

Historical timeline

The cease-fire agreement following the 1967 Six-Day War left Israel in control of a number of areas captured during hostilities.

Original Israeli policy at that time was to deny any Jewish settlement of these areas or even Jewish resettlement of specific locations where Jews had resided up until the 1948 Arab-Israeli War (see: List of villages depopulated during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war). Many attempts were made by Gush Emunim to establish outposts or resettle former Jewish areas, and initially the Israeli government forcibly disbanded these settlements. However, in the absence of peace talks to determine the future of these and other occupied territories, Israel ceased the enforcement of the original ban on settlement.
  • In 1967, the municipal borders of Jerusalem were extended to include all of the Old Citymarker as well as other areas. Residents within the new municipal borders were offered the choice between citizenship (subject to a few restrictions) and permanent residency (if they wished to retain their Jordanian passports). This annexation has not been recognized by any foreign country.
  • The Sinai, Gaza Strip, and West Bank were put under Israeli military occupation. Residents were not offered citizenship or residency, though they typically had de facto work permits within Israel and freedom of travel there.
  • In 1978, Israel forcibly evacuated its citizens from the Sinai and demolished their homes when the area was returned to Egypt pursuant to the Camp David Accords. The last Israeli community in the area, Yamitmarker, was evacuated in early 1982.
  • In 1980, the Knesset asserted Jerusalem's status as the nation's "eternal and indivisible capital" by passing the Jerusalem Law.
  • In 1980 the UN declared the Jerusalem Law "null and void", and the Security Council in resolution 465 ordered Israel to dismantle the settlements.
  • In 1981, Israel extended its law to the Golan Heights, passing the Golan Heights Law, which granted permanent residency, ID cards, and Israeli citizenship to the residents, but did not formally annex the territory.
  • In 2003 Israel and the Palestinians agreed the Road map for peace plan, where Israel undertook to freeze settlement building to accompany unconditional cessation of Palestinian terror and violence.
  • In August 2005, all settlements in the Gaza Strip and four in the northern West Bank (or northern Samaria) were forcibly evacuated as part of Israel's unilateral disengagement plan.
  • In 2007 Israel decided to build 300 more Israeli homes in the Har Homamarker neighborhood of East Jerusalem, near Bethlehem. The move was condemned by the United States and the European Union.
  • In early 2008, the Jerusalem municipality said it planned to build 600 new housing units. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice stated in response that settlement expansion should stop and was inconsistent with 'road map' obligations.
  • In 2009, US President Barack Obama demanded a complete freeze on settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The Israeli government agreed to a freeze in the West Bank. Peace Now argued that Israel was attempting to fool the United States. On 25 August 2009 Netanyahu said that he would attempt to gain an agreement with the U.S. to continue building settlements before attempting to talk with the Palestinians. On 28 August 2009 US officials said they would not impose conditions on the parties, but that it would be up to the parties themselves to determine if the threshold for talks had been met. Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar defended the freeze as an attempt to "protect the vital interests - Jerusalem and the relationship with the United States - and to avoid national isolation, because we won't be able to do the things close to our hearts while under international isolation."
  • On 6 September 2009, Hamas leader Khalid Mashaal called Israel's proposal to temporarily halt settlement construction in exchange for improved relations with Arab countries "Dangerous". The Hamas leader's opposition to the Israeli proposal was supported by Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa.
  • On 18 November 2009, the United States voiced their dismay at the approved by the Israel's interior ministry of 900 additional housing units at a Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem. A White House spokesman said the move makes it "more difficult" to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Settlements on occupied territory are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this and consider Gilo, the planned settlement area "an integral part of Jerusalem".

Settlement types and locations

Upper L: 3 are outside barrier Top L of center: part of Israel's unilateral disengagement Whole right: Jordan Valley
L: W. Samariamarker bloc to Kedumimmarker Center: hills around Nablusmarker/Shechemmarker
Lower L: W. Samariamarker bloc to Arielmarker Lower middle: E. Trans-Samaria Hwy outside barrier

The Jewish population in the areas held since 1967 live in a wide variety of centers:
  • Self-contained towns and small cities with a stable population in the tens of thousands, infrastructure, and all other features of permanence, e.g. Beitar Illitmarker (a city of close to 45,000 residents), Ma'ale Adummimmarker, Modi'in Illitmarker, Arielmarker.
  • Jewish neighborhoods adjacent to Arab neighborhoods in the same city, e.g. Hebronmarker, or the Muslim Quartermarker.
  • Neighborhoods, where both Jews and Arabs live together, e.g. Jerusalem.
  • Suburbs to other population centers, especially Jerusalemmarker (e.g. Gilomarker), and the Sharonmarker area (e.g. Karnei Shomronmarker).
  • Settlement blocs, e.g. Gush Etzionmarker, the vicinity of Arielmarker, the Shechemmarker/Nablusmarker area.
  • Frontier villages, such as those parallel to the Jordan Rivermarker.
  • Unauthorized residential outposts, consisting of campers, trailers, and even tents; these are often referred to as "wildcat" outposts. Most of these settlements are the results of recent construction, but some are based on Jewish communities that were forced to leave or abandoned in 1948 or earlier. Newly constructed developments are largely on hilltops, at some distance from Arab communities, which are typically found in valleys. [2045] [2046]
Upper left: Modiinmarker bloc Upper middle: Mountain ridge settlements outside barrier Right: Jordan Valley
L above center: Latrunmarker salient Center: Jerusalemmarker envelope, Ma'ale Adummimmarker at right
Lower L of center: Etzion blocmarker Lower center: Judean Desertmarker Lower right: Dead Seamarker

Settlements on sites of former Jewish communities

A few of the settlements were established on sites that had been inhabited by Jews during the British Mandate of Palestine.

partial listing only
  • Jerusalemmarker – Jewish presence since biblical times, various surrounding communities and neighborhoods, including Kfar Shiloah, also known as Silwanmarker - settled by Yemenite Jews in 1884, Jewish residents evacuated in 1938, settled again in 2004
  • Gush Etzionmarker Four communities - established between 1927 and 1947, destroyed 1948, reestablished beginning 1967
  • Hebronmarker - Jewish presence since biblical times, forced out in 1929 (because of Hebron massacre), some families return to the ruins in 1931 but the British evacuated them again to "prevent another massacre"; resettled in 1967
  • Kfar Darommarker - established in 1946, evacuated in 1948, resettled in 1970, evacuated in 2005 as part of the withdrawal from the Gaza Stripmarker.
  • Kaliamarker and Beit HaAravamarker - The former was built in 1934 as a kibbutz for potash mining. The latter was built in 1943 as an agricultural community. Both were abandoned in 1948, and subsequently destroyed by Jordanian forces. Resettled after the Six Day War.
  • Gaza City had a Jewish community for many centuries that was evacuated following riots in 1929. After the Six Day War, Jewish communities were built elsewheremarker in the Gaza Strip, but not in Gaza City proper.


Except for areas that were effectively annexed to Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, Israeli citizens and others can only move to areas captured in 1967 with the permission of the Israeli government. According to various statistics, the demographics can be estimated as follows:

Jewish population 1948 1966 1972 1983 1993 2004 2007
West Bank (excluding Jerusalem) 480 (see Gush Etzionmarker) 0 1,182 22,800 111,600 234,487 276,462
Gaza Strip 30 (see Kfar Darommarker) 0 700 1 900 4,800 7,826 0
Golan Heights 0 0 77 6,800 12,600 17,265 18,692
East Jerusalem 2,300 (see Jewish Quartermarker, Atarotmarker, Neve Yaakovmarker) 0 8,649 76,095 152,800 181,587 189,708
Total 2,810 0 10,608 1 106,595 281,800 441,165 484,862
1 including Sinai

In addition to internal migration, in large though declining numbers, the settlements absorb annually about 1000 new immigrants from outside Israel. In the '90s, the annual settler population growth was more than three times the annual population growth in Israel. In the '00s, the large settler population growth continues.

According to the NGO B'Tselem and Peace Now, the Israeli government has implemented a consistent and systematic policy intended to encourage Jewish citizens to migrate to the West Bank. One of the tools used to this end is to grant financial benefits and incentives to citizens.

As of 2007, the total number of Israeli settlers was 484,862. This figure includes settlers in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights.


The Golan Heights is administered under Israeli civil law as the Golan sub-district, a part of the Northern District. As the residents of pre-1967 communities in the Golan Heights (mainly Druze) are Israeli citizens, Israel makes no legal or administrative distinction between these communities and the post-1967 settlements.

East Jerusalem is defined in the Jerusalem Law as part of Israel's capital, Jerusalemmarker. As such it is administered as part of the city and its district, the Jerusalem Districtmarker. Pre-1967 residents of East Jerusalem and their descendants have residency status in the city but are mostly not citizens of Israel. Thus, the Israeli government maintains an administrative distinction between Israeli citizens and non-citizens in East Jerusalem, but the Jerusalem municipality does not.

Settlements in the West Bank are encompassed in the Judea and Samaria District. Authority for planning and construction in the district is held by the Israel Defense Forces Civil Administration. Since Israeli civil law does not apply to the West Bank, settlers in the area are theoretically subject to martial law. In practice, however, settlers are generally judged in civil courts within Israel proper. The district consists of four cities, thirteen local councils and six regional councils.

The Yesha Council is an umbrella organization of municipal councils in the Judea and Samaria district. (Yesha is a Hebrew acronym for Judeamarker, Samariamarker and Gazamarker, which was coined when there were Israeli settlements in the Gaza strip.)


Higher education

The major Israeli institution of higher education in the West Bank is the Ariel University Center of Samaria (formerly The College of Judea and Samaria), Israel's largest public college. The college was accredited in 1994 and awards bachelor degrees in arts, sciences, technology, architecture and physical therapy.

Teacher training colleges in West Bank settlements include Herzog College in Alon Shevutmarker and Orot Israel College in Elkanamarker. The Golan Heights boasts Ohalo Collegemarker, located in Katzrinmarker.

Curricula at Israeli academic institutions in the West Bank are overseen by the Council for Higher Education in Judea and Samaria (CHE-JS).

Debate on the settlements

Palestinians argue that the policy of settlements constitutes an effort to pre-empt or even sabotage a peace treaty that includes Palestinian sovereignty, and claim that the settlements are built on land that belongs to Palestinians.

Israelis supportive of settlement respond that they are religiously justified in owning the land . Furthermore, the Israel Foreign Ministry asserts that some settlements are legitimate, as they took shape when there was no operative diplomatic arrangement, and thus they did not violate any agreement. Based on this, they assert the following specific reasons for accepting settlements as legitimate:
  • Prior to the signing of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty, the eruption of the First Intifada in the late eighties, down to the signing of the Israeli-Jordanian peace treaty in 1994, Israeli governments on the left and right argued that the settlements were of strategic and tactical importance. The location of the settlements was primarily chosen based on the threat of an attack by the bordering hostile countries of Jordanmarker, Syriamarker, and Egyptmarker and possible routes of advance into Israeli population areas .These settlements were originally thought of as contributing to the peace and security of the state of Israel at a time when peace treaties had not been signed. Some supporters of the settlements still cite these reasons.
  • Many religious Jews assert the biblical Jewish connection to the areas in dispute, arguing that their claim to build is equal to the biblical Jewish connection to the other areas in Israel.

Legal background

Land ownership

In November 2006 Peace Now acquired a report (which it claims was leaked from the Israeli Government's Civil Administration) that indicates that as much as 40 percent of the settlement land that Israel plans to retain in the West Bank is privately owned by Palestinians. Peace Now further claims that this is a violation of Israeli law. The Washington Post reported that "The 38-page report offers what appears to be a comprehensive argument against the Israeli government's contention that it avoids building on private land, drawing on the state's own data to make the case". Peace Now published statistics and aerial maps for each individual settlement. According to the spokesman of Israel’s Civil Administration, this report was based on a leaked map that indicated Palestinian claims rather than rights, and that Peace Now never contacted the Civil Administration to confirm the report. A recent report by Peace Now, allegedly based on official data provided by the Civil Administration following a court struggle cites a lower figure of 32%, a figure rejected by the Civil Administration.In February 2008, The Civil Administration admitted that more than a third of West Bank settlements were built on private Palestinian land, originally seized by the IDF for 'security purposes'. The unauthorized seizure of private Palestinian land has been defined by the Civil Administration itself in a recent case as 'theft'.

The Spiegel report, commissioned by the Israeli Defense Ministry, also details a large amount of land theft by Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The report reveals that some settlements deemed legal by Israel are in part, and sometimes in large part, effectively illegal outposts, and that large portions of veteran Israeli settlements, including Oframarker, Elon Morehmarker and Beit Elmarker were built on private Palestinian land.

Illegal seizure of land owned by Palestinians continues. For example, in 2007 for several months young settlers have been occupying a house belonging to an elderly Palestinian widow. The widow has turned to the Israeli government for redress; the Israeli police are present in the area for a half day every week and have evicted the settlers on several occasions, but they keep coming straight back and intend to stay.

According to the Israeli government, the majority of the land currently occupied by the new settlements was vacant or belonged to the state (from which it was leased) or bought fairly from the Palestinians. Former United Statesmarker State Departmentmarker Legal Advisor Stephen Schwebel, who later headed the International Court of Justicemarker, wrote in 1970 regarding Israel's case:

Where the prior holder of territory had seized that territory unlawfully, the state which subsequently takes that territory in the lawful exercise of self-defense has, against that prior holder, better title.

The recent use of the Absentee Property Law to "transfer, sell or lease any real estate property" in East Jerusalem owned by Palestinians who live elsewhere (usually in the West Bank) without compensation has been criticized both inside and outside of Israel.

Opponents of the settlements claim that "vacant" land had either belonged to Arabs who had fled or belonged collectively to an entire village, a practise that had developed under Ottoman rule. B'Tselem claims that the Israeli government used the absence of modern legal documents for the communal land as a legal basis for expropriating it.

Legal status of the territories

Although all areas in question were captured by Israelmarker in the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel has treated them in three different ways:
  • "East Jerusalem" - Jerusalemmarker and its surroundings were envisioned as an international area under United Nations administration in the 1947 partition plan, which was accepted by Israel but rejected by all Arab nations. In 1948, Jordanmarker captured and annexed the eastern half of Jerusalem, while Israel captured and annexed the west. Following the Six-Day War in 1967 Israel annexed the eastern part, together with several villages around it.
  • The Israeli Golan Heights Law of 1981 applied Israel's "laws, jurisdiction and administration" in the Golan Heightsmarker, which were captured from Syria in 1967 . Israel has not stated that it has "annexed" the area.
  • The Gaza Stripmarker and West Bankmarker, a section of the areas awarded by the UN to a prospective Arab state of Palestine, remained in Arab hands while the rest of that area was captured by Israel in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. The former was administered by Egyptmarker while the latter was annexed by Jordanmarker.

The Jerusalem Law and the Golan Heights Law have both been deemed illegal by the UN Security Council (resolutions 267 and 497 respectively), and have not been recognized by other states.

Israel has signed peace treaties with Egypt (removing all Israeli settlements and returning the Sinai Peninsulamarker to Egyptian sovereignty), and Jordan (returning small sections to Jordanian sovereignty); there are currently no peace treaties governing Israel's borders related to the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and the Golan Heights. Israel therefore asserts that the armistice lines (known as the Green Line) of 1949 have no other legal status.

Palestinians object to this view as the Israel-Jordan peace treaty was not to alter the status of any territories coming under Israeli control during the hostilities of 1967 (article 3(2) of the Israel-Jordan peace treaty).

Legal status of the settlements

See also International law and the Arab-Israeli conflict

The international consensus on the illegality of Israeli settlements

According to the BBC, the "overwhelming view" of the international community is that the settlements are illegal based upon Article 49 of the Geneva Convention.

The consensus view is largely based on UN Security council resolutions, including resolutions 446, 452, 465, 471 and 476 which find the settlements to be illegal. In Resolution 465 the settlements are even described as a "flagrant violation". Separately also the legal arm of the UN, the International Court of Justice, has found the settlements to be illegal under international law.

International human rights groups Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem have denounced the settlements as illegal.

The European Union considers the settlements to be illegal. The reconvened Conference of the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions declared in 2001 that the settlements are illegal.

The United Nations General Assembly has passed several resolutions denouncing all settlements in the occupied territories as illegal. Below is a summary of voting records concerning such resolutions from 2006-2008:
2006 2007 2008
Resolution 61/118 Resolution 62/108 Resolution 63/97
For 162, against 8, 10 abstentions For 165, against 7, 5 abstentions For 171, against 6, 2 abstentions
Against: Australia, Israel, Marshall Islands,Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Tuvalu, USA. Against: Australia, Israel, Marshall Islands,Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, USA. Against: Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru,Palau, USA.

Legal arguments

The establishment and expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip have been described as "having no legal validity" by the UN Security Council in resolutions 446, 452, 465 and 471.

The European Union considers the settlements to be illegal, and an April 21, 1978 opinion of the Legal Adviser of the Department of State to the United States Congress on the legal status of Israeli settlements concluded that "[w]hile Israel may undertake, in the occupied territories, actions necessary to meet its military needs and to provide for orderly government during the occupation, for the reasons indicated above the establishment of the civilian settlements in those territories is inconsistent with international law."

In 1967, Theodor Meron, legal council to the Israeli Foreign Ministry stated in a legal opinion to Adi Yafeh, the Political Secretary of the Prime Minister, "My conclusion is that civilian settlement in the administered territories contravenes the explicit provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention." The legal opinion, forwarded to Levi Eshkol, was not made public at the time, and the Labor cabinet progressively sanctioned settlements anyway; this action paved the way for future settlement growth. In 2007, Judge Meron stated that "I believe that I would have given the same opinion today." Nevertheless, Israel considers its settlement policy to be consistent with international law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention, while recognizing that some of the smaller settlements have been constructed "illegally" in the sense of being in violation of Israeli law. In 1998 the Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs produced "The International Criminal Court Background Paper". It concludes
International law has long recognised that there are crimes of such severity they should be considered "international crimes".
Such crimes have been established in treaties such as the Genocide Convention and the Geneva Conventions.
The following are Israel's primary issues of concern [ie with the rules of the ICC]: - The inclusion of settlement activity as a "war crime" is a cynical attempt to abuse the Court for political ends.
The implication that the transfer of civilian population to occupied territories can be classified as a crime equal in gravity to attacks on civilian population centres or mass murder is preposterous and has no basis in international law.

Israel has made several arguments in regards to the legality of the territories under the Geneva Convention. They assert that it is only intended to cover "forcible transfers and to protect the local population from displacement" according to Article 49(1)of the Convention: "[i]ndividual or mass forcible transfers" whereas the Israelis who live in the settlements have moved there voluntarily, and argue that settlements are not intended to, nor have ever resulted in, the displacement of Palestinians from the area. This argument, however, relies on misquoting the first clause of Article 49, which prohibits forcible transfers or deportations "of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not". The misquotation is done by omitting the phrases which qualify that the prohibited forced transfer is that of the population of the occupied territory (the Palestinians, in this case) and not the population of the Occupying Power (the Israelis).

Israel also argues that some of the settlers have returned to areas where Jewish settlements existed before 1948, such as Hartuvmarker, and therefore the application of the Geneva Convention is an entirely different issue.

Israel contends that the Geneva Convention only applies in the absence of an operative peace agreement and between two powers accepting the Convention. Since the Oslo Accords leave the issue of settlements to be negotiated later, proponents of this view argue that the Palestinians accepted the temporary presence of Israeli settlements pending further negotiation, and that there is no basis for declaring them illegal.

International human rights groups Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have denounced the settlements as illegal,, though the Anti-Defamation League has argued that they are legal.

Two legal scholars (prominent international law expert Julius Stone, and Eugene Rostow, Dean of Yale Law School) have argued that the settlements are legal under international law, on a number of different grounds.

Arguments based on the Fourth Geneva Convention

There are two disputes regarding the Fourth Geneva Convention: whether the convention applies to the territories in question and whether the Convention forbids the establishment of Israeli settlements. Article 2 concerns the applicability of the Convention whereas article 49 concerns the legality of population transfers. In practice, Israel does not accept that the Fourth Geneva Convention applies de jure, but has stated that on humanitarian issues it will govern itself de facto by its provisions, without specifying which these are.

Article 2
Article 2 extends the Convention to "all cases of declared war or of any other armed conflict which may arise between two or more of the High Contracting Parties" and "all cases of partial or total occupation of the territory of a High Contracting Party". Supporters of the legality of the settlements argue that the Convention itself does not apply, as the West Bankmarker and Gaza Stripmarker have never been part of a sovereign state since the defeat of the Ottoman Empire, therefore do not meet the definition of "the territory of a High Contracting Party". This argument was articulated in 1971 by Israeli Attorney-General Meir Shamgar (who also created the legal framework of the Israeli military government in the administered territories) and presented by Moshe Dayan in a speech before the 32nd session of the United Nations General Assembly in 1977.

The International Court of Justicemarker, in an advisory (i.e. non-binding) opinion to the UN General Assembly, argued that according to Article 2 of the Convention applies if “there exists an armed conflict” between “two contracting parties”, regardless of the territories status in international law prior to the armed attack. It also argued that "no territorial acquisition resulting from the threat or use of force shall be recognized as legal" according to customary international law (and defined by "Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation among States in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations" (General Assembly Resolution 2625).

On 15 July 1999 a conference of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention met at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva. It ruled that the Convention did apply in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. The Conference of High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention held in Geneva on December 5, 2001 called upon "the Occupying Power to fully and effectively respect the Fourth Geneva Convention in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and to refrain from perpetrating any violation of the Convention." The High Contracting Parties reaffirmed "the illegality of the settlements in the said territories and of the extension thereof."

U.N. Security Council Resolution 446 refers directly to the Fourth Geneva Convention as the applicable international legal instrument, and specifically insists that Israel desist from transferring its own population into the territories or changing their demographic makeup.

However, others have objected to the ruling of the conference, which they argue has amended history and been construed only for this specific situation (see excerpt below). Under Article 2, the Convention pertains to “cases of…occupation of the territory of a High Contracting Party” by another such party. The West Bank and Gaza Strip were never the territory of a High Contracting Party; the occupation after 1948 by Jordan and Egypt was illegal and neither country ever had lawful or recognized sovereignty. The last legal sovereignty over the territories was that of the League of Nations Palestine Mandate, which stipulated the right of the Jewish people to settle in the whole of the Mandated territory. According to Article 6 of the Mandate, “close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands not required for public use” was to be encouraged. Article 25 allowed the League Council to temporarily postpone the Jewish right to settle in what is now Jordan, if conditions were not amenable. Article 80 of the U.N. Charter preserved this Jewish right to settlement by specifying that:

nothing in the [United Nations] Charter shall be construed ... to alter in any manner the rights whatsoever of any states or peoples or the terms of existing international instruments.

According to barrister and human rights activist Stephen Bowen, Israel’s argument was rejected by the international community "because the Convention also states that it applies 'in all circumstances' (Article 1), and 'to all cases of declared war or of any other armed conflict' (Article 2)." Shamgar argues specifically against this point, stating:
There is no rule of international law according to which the Fourth Convention applies in each and every armed conflict whatever the status of the parties....
The whole idea of the restriction of military government powers is based on the assumption that there has been a sovereign who was ousted and that he was a legitimate sovereign.
Any other conception would lead to the conclusion, for example, that Francemarker should have acted in Alsace-Lorrainemarker according to rule 42-56 of the Hague Rules of 1907, until the signing of a peace treaty.

Article 49
Article 49 (1) insists that "Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive" and Article 49(6) insists that "The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies". According the commentary of Jean Pictet of the International Red Cross, this is intended to prevent the World War II practice of an occupying power transferring "portions of its own population to occupied territory for political and racial reasons or in order, as they claimed, to colonize those territories" which in turn "worsened the economic situation of the native population and endangered their separate existence as a race".

Supporters of the legality of the settlements argue that even if the Convention did apply, it should be read only in the context of World War II forcible migrations at the time. It is only intended to cover forcible transfers and to protect the local population from displacement. They point out Article 49(1) specifically covers "[i]ndividual or mass forcible transfers" whereas the Israelis who live in the settlements have moved there voluntarily, and argue that settlements are not intended to, nor have ever resulted in, the displacement of Palestinians from the area. In addition, they state that the Geneva Convention only applies in the absence of an operative peace agreement and between two powers accepting the Convention. Since the Oslo Accords leave the issue of settlements to be negotiated later, proponents of this view argue that the Palestinians accepted the temporary presence of Israeli settlements pending further negotiation, and that there is no basis for declaring them illegal.

Those who reject that view have a different reading of the article. They claim that this argument relies on misquoting the first clause of Article 49 by omitting the phrases which qualify that the prohibited forced transfer is that of the population of the occupied territory (the Palestinians, in this case) and not the population of the Occupying Power (the Israelis). They also note that Pictet's commentary on Article 49(6) states "[t]he paragraph provides protected persons with a valuable safeguard. It should be noted, however, that in this paragraph the meaning of the words "transfer" and "deport" is rather different from that in which they are used in the other paragraphs of Article 49, since they do not refer to the movement of protected persons but to that of nationals of the occupying Power." David Kretzmer, Professor of International Law at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has argued:
As paragraph 1 of Article 49 refers expressly to forcible transfers, it seems fair to conclude that the term "transfer" in paragraph 6 means both forcible and nonforcible transfers.
This conclusion would seem to flow from the object of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which is to protect civilians in the occupied territory, and not the population of the occupied power.
From the point of view of the protected persons, whether the transfer of outsiders into their territory is forcible or not would seem to be irrelevant."
US State Department Legal Advisor, Herbert J. Hansell, in a letter dated 1 April 1978, has reached the same conclusion, noting that "[p]aragraph 1 of article 49 prohibits "forcible" transfers of protected persons out of the occupied territory; paragraph 6 is not so limited."He further argued that:
The view has been advanced that a transfer is prohibited under paragraph 6 only to the extent that it involves the displacement of the local population.
Although one respected authority, Lauterpacht, evidently took this view, it is otherwise unsupported in the literature, in the rules of international law or in the language and negotiating history of the Convention, and it seems clearly not correct.
Displacement of protected persons is dealt with separately in the Convention and paragraph 6 would seem redundant if limited to cases of displacement.
Another view of paragraph 6 is that it is directed against mass population transfers such as occurred in World War II for political, racial or colonization ends; but there is no apparent support or reason for limiting its application to such cases.
The latter interpretation was adopted by the International Court of Justice in its 2004 advisory opinion , and 150 countries supported a (non-binding) General Assembly resolution demanding Israel to "comply with its legal obligations as mentioned in the advisory opinion".

Arguments based on UNSC Resolution 242 and the British Mandate

Rostow and others further argue that UN Security Council Resolution 242 (which Rostow helped draft) mandates Israeli control of the territories, and that the original British Mandate of Palestine still applies, allowing Jewish settlement there. In Rostow's view
The British Mandate recognized the right of the Jewish people to "close settlement" in the whole of the Mandated territory.
It was provided that local conditions might require Great Britain to "postpone" or "withhold" Jewish settlement in what is now Jordan.
This was done in 1922.
But the Jewish right of settlement in Palestine west of the Jordan river, that is, in Israel, the West Bank, Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, was made unassailable.
That right has never been terminated and cannot be terminated except by a recognized peace between Israel and its neighbors.
And perhaps not even then, in view of Article 80 of the U.N.
Charter, "the Palestine article," which provides that "nothing in the Charter shall be construed ... to alter in any manner the rights whatsoever of any states or any peoples or the terms of existing international instruments...."
According to Rostow "the Jewish right of settlement in the area is equivalent in every way to the right of the local population to live there".

This right is based on Article 6 of the Mandate which states: "The Administration of Palestine, while ensuring that the rights and position of other sections of the population are not prejudiced, shall facilitate Jewish immigration under suitable conditions and shall encourage, in cooperation with the Jewish Agency referred to in Article 4, close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands not required for public use". In addition, many Israeli settlements have been established on sites which were home to Jewish communities before 1948 such as Neve Yaakovmarker, Gush Etzionmarker, Hebronmarker, Kaliamarker, and Kfar Darommarker.

Contrary to this view other legal scholars have argued that under Articles 31 and 32 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties the only common sense interpretation of UNSC 242 is that Israel must withdraw from all of the territory captured in 1967, as any interpretation permitting the extension of sovereignty by conquest would violate the relevant governing principle of international law as emphasized in the preambular statement, i.e., "the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war" as established through the abolition of the right of conquest by the League of Nations following World War I.

Furthermore, it is argued that UNSC 242 has binding force under Article 25 of the UN Charter owing to its incorporation into UN Security Council Resolution 338 and that it is also binding on Israel and the PLO by agreement owing to its incorporation into the Oslo Accords.

Others argue that the Oslo Accords supersede UNSC 242 rather than making it binding. The Declaration of Principles in the accords only state that future negotiations will "lead to the implementation of Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338."

Additionally, as the international community considered the status of Jerusalem to be unresolved, even after 1967, and did not deem any part of the city to be Israeli territory, including that part held since 1948, UNSC 242 did not settle territorial issues between Israel and Palestine left unresolved by the 1949 Armistice Agreements. Indeed, Sir Elihu Lauterpacht and others have argued that, because of the disorder in Palestine at the time, the territorial framework of the 1947 Partition Plan did not come into effect in such a way as to ipso jure grant Israel sovereignty over the territory allocated to the Jewish state under that plan. Stone agrees with Lauterpacht's analysis, and his view that sovereignty was acquired through other means:
Lauterpacht has offered a cogent legal analysis leading to the conclusion that sovereignty over Jerusalem has already vested in Israel.
His view is that when the partition proposals were immediately rejected and aborted by Arab armed aggression, those proposals could not, both because of their inherent nature and because of the terms in which they were framed, operate as an effective legal re-disposition of the sovereign title.
They might (he thinks) have been transformed by agreement of the parties concerned into a consensual root of title, but this never happened.
And he points out that the idea that some kind of title remained in the United Nations is quite at odds, both with the absence of any evidence of vesting, and with complete United Nations silence on this aspect of the matter from 1950 to 1967?…
In these circumstances, that writer is led to the view that there was, following the British withdrawal and the abortion of the partition proposals, a lapse or vacancy or vacuum of sovereignty. In this situation of sovereignty vacuum, he thinks, sovereignty could be forthwith acquired by any state that was in a position to assert effective and stable control without resort to unlawful means.

Antonio Cassese disagrees with this analysis, arguing that whilst Israel's original occupation of West Jerusalem might have been carried out in an act of self-defense under Article 51 of the UN Charter, this did not confer legal title to the territory owing to the general prohibition in international law on the acquisition of sovereignty through military conquest. He further considers that "mere silence" could not constitute agreement by the United Nations to the acquisition of sovereignty by Israel or Jordan as a result of their de facto control of Jerusalem. Cassese concludes that "at least a tacit manifestation of consent through conclusive acts would have been necessary", whereas such relevant acts as did take place confirmed that no such consent to the transfer of sovereignty was given.

Arguments based on historical agreements

Some have argued that Israel has a right to settle in areas agreed upon with Emir Faisal, the recognized political leader of the Arab world at the time. Faisal signed an agreement with Chaim Weizmann, the recognized leader of the modern Zionisim movement.

The agreement, known as the Faisal-Weizmann Agreement, signed in January 1919, agreed conditional terms of borders between the Jewish state and the Arab states, which include the present day territories in dispute.

Arguments based on the cause of the war

It has been argued that Israel took control of the West Bank as a result of a defensive war. Former Israeli diplomat Dore Gold writes that:
"The language of "occupation" has allowed Palestinian spokesmen to obfuscate this history.
By repeatedly pointing to "occupation", they manage to reverse the causality of the conflict, especially in front of Western audiences.
Thus, the current territorial dispute is allegedly the result of an Israeli decision "to occupy", rather than a result of a war imposed on Israel by a coalition of Arab states in 1967".
He quotes Former State Department Legal Advisor Stephen Schwebel, who later headed the International Court of Justice in the Hague, and wrote in 1970 regarding Israel's case:
Where the prior holder of territory had seized that territory unlawfully, the state which subsequently takes that territory in the lawful exercise of self-defense has, against that prior holder, better title.

However, international law scholar John Quigley has noted that "...a state that uses force in self-defense may not retain territory it takes while repelling an attack. If Israel had acted in self-defense, that would not justify its retention of the Gaza Strip and West Bank. Under the UN Charter there can lawfully be no territorial gains from war, even by a state acting in self-defense. The response of other states to Israel's occupation shows a virtually unanimous opinion that even if Israel's action was defensive, its retention of the West Bank and Gaza Strip was not."

Arguments based on property rights and private ownership

On January 30, 2009, the Associated Press reported that Israeli human rights group Yesh Din plans to use a classified Israeli Government database to prove that many West Bankmarker Israeli settlements were built on land privately owned by Palestinian citizens without compensation.

Illegal Outposts

See also: Sasson report

In two cases decided shortly after independence (the Shimshon and Stampfer cases) the Israeli Supreme Court held that the fundamental rules of international law accepted as binding by all "civilized" nations were incorporated in the domestic legal system of Israel. The Nuremberg Military Tribunal had already determined that the articles annexed to the Hague IV Convention of 1907 were customary law, recognized by all civilized nations.

The Court determined in the 1979 Elon Moreh case that only the military commander of an area may requisition land according to article 52 of the Hague regulations. Military necessity had been an after-thought in the planning portions of the Elon Moreh settlement. That situation did not fulfill the precise strictures laid down in the articles of the Hague Convention, so the Court ruled the requisition order had been invalid and illegal.

In subsequent cases, the Court has ruled that Article 43 of the Hague IV Convention is a mandatory planning consideration for approval of building projects on state lands in Judea and Samaria.

Pressured by America, the Sharon administration commissioned the Sasson report which found that the Israeli government had funded the creation of Jewish settler outposts in the West Bank that were illegal and in violation of stated government policy. According to the report, the Housing and Construction Ministry, the World Zionist Organization, the Education Ministry and the Defense Ministry cooperated to "systematically establish illegal settlement points", paying millions of dollars to create the infrastructure for scores of settlements.

The summary of the Sasson Report explains that local law requires the fulfillment of a number of basic conditions before establishing a settlement in the Judea, and Samaria. It lists four pre-conditions that must be fulfilled in each case. The second pre-condition regarding title to the land cites the precedent established in the Elon Moreh case. The third pre-condition is that a settlement can only be established according to a lawfully designed building scheme, which has the power to produce a building permit. The fourth pre-condition is that the bounds of jurisdiction of the settlement must be determined in advance by order of the Commander of the area. The Israeli Supreme Court has ruled that the fulfillment of the applicable Hague IV Convention criteria is a mandatory and integral part of satisfying those three pre-conditions of the local law. Sasson summed-up the situation by expaining:
An unauthorized outpost is a settlement which does not fulfill at least one of the above mentioned conditions.
And I must emphasize: an unauthorized outpost is not a “semi legal” outpost.
Unauthorized is illegal.

The report found “blatant violations of the law” by officials and state institutions. Many of the more than 100 outposts investigated added at state expense paved roads, permanent housing, power lines and other infrastructure. According to the report, some of the outposts were established on private lands owned by Palestinians with the help of Housing Ministry architects, the Housing Ministry funded many of the trailers used to start the outposts, and Defence Ministry officials allocated such private land to the quasi-official Jewish Agency.

As part of the 2003 "Road map" for peace, Israel committed itself to remove about two dozen such settlements, an obligation it has yet to fulfill.

In response to settler violence directed towards Israeli security forces, Israel declared it would no longer fund unauthourized outposts from November, 2008. Settlers claim the violence was sparked by the beating of a settler child, while border police spokesman Moshe Pinchi said he had no knowledge of the alleged beating and accused the settlers of "cynically" sending minors to attack the police. However there is evidence that support continues unabated for illegal outposts. At one unauthorized settlement, Elimarker there has been recent work on a new road that cuts through Palestinian territory.

According to a report of the Israeli Environmental Protection Ministry, waste water management is "virtually nonexistent" in unauthourized Jewish settler outposts and some other settlements, thus raw sewage is contaminating the ground water in parts of the West Bank. Accoridng to the report, the main cause of the contaminated water is that raw waste water flows from Hebron, Ramallah, Nablus, Jenin and other villages, without proper treatment. The report blames Israeli settlements for pumping contaminated water into the sewars, not Palestinian villages. 70% of the Jewish communities east of the Green Line are connected to treatment facilities, so "illegal outposts" are the main source of the untreated water, according to the Israeli report.

In May 2009, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that over two dozen illegal outposts in the West Bank had been "declared as such by the Talia Sasson Commission", and would be dismantled.

On August 17, 2009, four ministers on Netanyahu cabinet (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Internal Affairs Eli Yishai - Shas, Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Strategic Affairs Moshe Ya'alon - Likud, Minister of Information Yuli Edelstein - Likud and Minister of Science and Technology Daniel Hershkowitz - The Jewish Home) embarked on a tour of West Bank outposts. During the tour, Yishai stated that the outposts are not illegal:
These are legal settlements built by the governments of Israel.
The people of Israel should know this settlement is legal.
If someone thinks otherwise and plans to evacuate them, it will have to be approved by the government.
You cannot just evacuate people from their homes without due process.

Settlements, Palestinians, and human rights

Human rights organisation Amnesty International argues that Israel's settlement policy is not only illegal, but is discriminatory and a violation of Palestinian human rights. The Israeli human rights centre B'Tselem has highlighted the impact on Palestinian freedom of movement due to Israeli travel restrictions. In Hebron especially, "grave violations" have of Palestinian human rights have occured due to "the presence of the settlers within the city." They claim that more than fifty percent of West Bank land has been expropriated from Palestinian owners "mainly to establish settlements and create reserves of land for the future expansion of the settlements". While the seized lands mainly benefit the settlements, the Palestinian public is prohibited from using them in any way. They also regard some of the roads established by Israel throughout the West Bank which are closed to vehicles with Palestinian license-plates as 'discriminatory'.

Human Rights Watch reports on "settler violence" which refers to the phenomenon of violence, such as stoning and shooting, committed by Israeli settlers against Israeli security forces and Palestinians who live in the Palestinian territoriesmarker. In recent years Israeli withdrawals from Gazamarker and Hebronmarker have triggered settler rioting in protest. There is also continual conflict between settlers and Palestinians over land, resources and perceived grievances.

According to B'Tselem, more than fifty percent of the land of the West Bank has been expropriated from Palestinian owners "mainly to establish settlements and create reserves of land for the future expansion of the settlements". While the seized lands mainly benefit the settlements, the Palestinian public is prohibited from using them in any way. According to Meron Benvenisti,
'the entire "settlement enterprise" has become a commercial real estate project, which conscripts Zionist rhetoric for profit'.

The recent construction of the Israeli West Bank barrier routed inside the green line to encompass a variety of settlements has also been cited as an infirengement on Palestinian human and land rights. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimates that 10% of the West Bank will fall on the Israeli side of the barrier.

Relations with Palestinians


Palestinians have been highly involved in the construction business since the settlements first started appearing in the West Bank. The Palestinian Authority estimates over 12,000 Palestinians are employed by Jewish and Arab contractors in building and expanding settlements. It is reported that even supporters of Hamas and Islamic Jihad work in the settlement business. A lack of jobs and relatively high salary has been cited as a motivation for Palestinian involvement. Arab workers are said to be paid approximately 3 times as much by Israeli contractors than Palestinian employers. Jewish employers pay an average of NIS 400 ($100 USD) while Palestinian contractors pay NIS 100 to NIS 150 per day.

According to a 2008 annual report by Kav LaOved, many Palestinians who work in Israeli settlements are not given the same basic protections that apply to Israeli workers under Israeli labor law such as a minimum wage, payment for working overtime, work safety and other social rights. Instead, many Israeli employers in the West Bank treat Palestinian workers according to Jordanianmarker labor law which is much more "lax" than Israeli law. Jordanian law does not require minimum wage, payment for working overtime and other social rights. This system was legally challenged in 2007 by Kav LaOved and reached the Israeli Supreme Courtmarker which ruled that Israeli labor law does apply to Palestinians working in West Bank settlements. The court ruled that applying different rules in the same work place based on differing nationalities constituted as discrimination and was unacceptable. In spite of the ruling, Kav LaOved believes the law will not be enforced as only a few workers have gained rights that they are legally entitled to. The ruling has however allowed Palestinian workers to file lawsuits in Israeli courts which has led to an average settlement of "100,000 shekels." Israeli human rights group B'Tselem has expressed similar concern for the conditions of Palestinian workers in the West Bank.



Between the beginning of the Second Intifada (September 2000) and the end of 2008, 245 Israeli security force personnel and 237 Israeli civilians and were killed by Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, while 4791 Palestinians were killed by Israeli security forces and 45 Palestinians were killed by Israeli civilians in those areas.

Palestinian violence against settlers

Types of fatal attacks by Palestinians against settlers have included suicide bombings of buses and hitchhiking posts, firing of rockets and mortars, shootings, stabbings, bludgeonings, stonings and an axe murder. Children, including infants, have often been targeted in these attacks. Incidents which received relative notoreity include:
  • 26 March 2001: A ten-month-old Israeli infant was shot in the head and killed by a Palestinian sniper while seated in her stroller on the streets of Hebron.
  • 8 May 2001:Two 14-year-old boys from the settlement of Tekoa were found dead in a nearby cave after their heads were smashed in by rocks. A group called Hizbullah-Palestine claimed responsibility
  • 12 June 2001: A five-month-old infant, the son of settlers, was hit in a Palestinian stoning attack on the car in which he was travelling. The baby died from his injuries after six days.
  • 19 June 2002: an Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades suicide bombing at a crowded bus stop and hitchhiking post frequented by settlers in the French Hillmarker neighborhood of East Jerusalem killed 10 civilians.
  • 20 June 2002: a Palestinian gunman entered a home in the settlement of Itamarmarker and killed a mother and three of her children. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine claimed responsibility for the attack.
  • April 2009: An ax-wielding Palestinian killed a 13-year-old boy and wounded a 7-year-old boy in the settlement of Bat Ayinmarker.

Settler violence against Palestinians

Settlers have attacked Palestinians, unhindered by Israeli army and police units, in an incident described by the Israeli press and by Prime Minister Olmert as a "pogrom." In Hebron on the West Bank in December, 2008, a few dozen masked Jewish settlers attacked the house of a Palestinian family numbering close to 20 people, all of them women and children save for three men. The women of the Palestinian family cried for help but their neighbors were too scared to approach the house, frightened of the Jewish security guards from Kiryat Arbamarker who sealed off the home and who cursed the journalists documenting the attack. The masked settlers set fire to the house and shattered the windows with stones with the Palestinian family still inside, as hundreds of Jewish settlers witnessed the attack and offered suggestions to the attackers to harm the family more effectively. The Israeli army personnel nearby did not call for backup until after the house was destroyed.

Another incident that sparked coverage in the New York Times was a violent settler protest at the Palestinian village of Funduk in November 2007, in which hundreds of settlers converged at the entrance of the village and rampaged. The protest occurred five days after a settler was killed in response to settlers' seizure of Palestinian land. The settlers smashed the windows of houses and cars. According to Funduk villagers, Israeli soldiers and police accompanied the protesters but mostly stood aside while the settlers rampaged.

Settlers are particularly active during the Palestinian olive harvest season. Olive farmers and families are targeted by settlers while on their fields, and are assaulted or shot-at. Numerous organizations have documented serious abuses by settlers during this season, and many international and Israeli organizations organize campaigns to protect Palestinians on the fields during the harvest.

Environmental issues

The Municipal Environmental Associations of Judea and Samaria was set up by settler councils to promote environmental awareness in the West Bank. Their stated goals include a commitment to find solutions to sewage treatment problems and to work with the Palestinian Authority on environmental issues.

Sewage and water

Settlers and Palestinians share the mountain aquifier as a water source, and both generate sewage and industrial effluents which endanger the aquifier. A 2004 report by Friends of the Earth Middle East said that inadequate sewage treatment existed among Palestinians and settlers. Sewage from Palestinian sourcces was estimated at 46 million cubic meters a year, and sources from settler sources ar 15 million cubic meters a year. The report concluded that sewage from many settlements received unsatisfactory treatment, while sewage from Palestinian villages was disposed in unlined cesspits with no treatment at all, and sewage from Palestinian cities was generally discharged without treatment into streams or the open environment.

According to a 2007 study conducted by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority and the Israeli Ministry of Environmental Protection, Palestinian towns and cities produce an estimated 56 million cubic meters of sewage per year, 94 percent of which is discharged without adequate treatment, while Israeli sources produce an estimated 17.5 million cubic meters per year, 31.5 percent of which is discharged without adequate treatment.

Diplomatic reactions, proposals, and criticisms

The settlements have on several occasions been a source of tension between Israel and the U.S. President Jimmy Carter insisted that the settlements were illegal and unwise tactically, and decades after leaving office he wrote Palestine Peace Not Apartheid. President Ronald Reagan stated that they were legal, though he considered them an obstacle to negotiations. In 1991 there was a clash between the Bush administration and Israel, where the U.S. delayed a subsidized loan in order to pressure Israel not to proceed with the establishment of settlements for instance in the Jerusalem-Bethlehem corridor. In 2005 the United States ambassador to Israel, Dan Kurtzer, expressed U.S. support "for the retention by Israel of major Israeli population centres [in the West Bank] as an outcome of negotiations", reflecting President Bush's statement a year earlier that a permanent peace treaty would have to reflect "demographic realities" in the West Bank. In June 2009, President Barack Obama said "The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements."

Although the Oslo accords did not include any obligation on Israel's part to stop building in the "settlements", Palestinians argue that Israel has undermined the Oslo accords, and the peace process more generally, by continuing to expand the settlements after the signing of the Accords. Israel previously also had settlements in the Sinai Peninsulamarker, but these were forcibly evacuated and destroyed as a result of the peace agreement with Egyptmarker.

Most Israeli and U.S. proposals for final agreement have also involved Israel being allowed to retain long established communities in the territories near Israel and in "East Jerusalem" (the majority of the settler population is near the "Green Line"), with Israel annexing the land on which the communities are located. This would result in a transfer of roughly 5% of the West Bank to Israel, with the Palestinians being compensated by the transfer of a similar share of Israeli territory (i.e. territory behind the "Green Line") to the Palestinian state. Palestinians complain that this would legitimize what they see as an illegitimate land grab, and that the land offered in exchange is situated in the southern desert, whereas the areas that Israel seeks to retain are among the West Bank's most fertile areas, including major aquifers. Israel, however, sees the current "Green Line" as unacceptable from a security standpoint - Israel would have at some points no more than 17 kilometers from the border to the sea. For more details, see Proposals for a Palestinian state.

Former President George Bush has stated that he does not expect Israel to return entirely to pre-1967 borders, due to "new realities on the ground." One of the main compromise plans put forth by the Clinton Administration would have allowed Israel to keep some settlements in the West Bank, especially those which were in large blocs near the pre-1967 borders of Israel. in return, Palestinians would have received some concessions of land in other parts of the country.

Both U.S. President Bill Clinton and U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair, who played notable roles in attempts at mediation, noted the need for some territorial and diplomatic compromise on this issue, based on the validity of some of the claims of both sides.

Proposal of Palestinian citizenship for remaining settlers

A number of proposals for the granting of Palestinian citizenship or residential permits to Jewish settlers in return for the removal of Israeli military installations from the West Bank have been fielded by such individuals as Arafat, Ibrahim Sarsur and Ahmed Qureia, although, according to Yehoshua Magnes, the possibility that any such exchange of sovereignty over the Jewish settler population can occur without subsequent Arab reprisal violence is low.

Dismantlement of settlements


Given the dispute over the territories where the settlements were built, the issue of dismantling them has been considered. Arab parties to the conflict have demanded the dismantlement of the settlements as a condition for peace with Israel. As part of the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty, Israel was required to evacuate its settlers from the 18 Sinaimarker settlements. The evacuation, which took place in 1982, was done forcefully in some instances, such as the evacuation of Yamitmarker. The settlements were demolished, as it was feared that settlers might try to return to their homes after the evacuation.

During the peace process with the Palestinians, the issue of dismantling the West Bankmarker and Gaza Stripmarker settlements has been raised.

As part of the Disengagement Plan, Israel has evacuated the Gaza Stripmarker and part of the West Bankmarker, including all 21 settlements in Gaza and four in the West Bank, while retaining control over Gaza's borders, coastline, and airspace. Most of these settlements have existed since the early 80's, some are over 30 years old, and with a total population of more than 10,000, many of whom have yet to find permanent housing. There was significant opposition to the plan among parts of the Israeli public, and especially those living in the territories. American President George W. Bush has said that a permanent peace deal would have to reflect "demographic realities" in the West Bank regarding Israel's settlements.

Within the former settlements, almost all buildings were demolished by Israel, with the exception of certain government and religious structures, which were completely emptied. Under an international arrangement, productive greenhouses were left to assist the Palestinian economy but these were destroyed within hours by Palestinians. Following the withdrawal, many of the former synagogues were vandalized by Palestinians, in a clear instance of religiously motivated aggression.

Some Israelis believe the settlements need not necessarily be dismantled and evacuated, even if Israel withdraws from the territory where they stand, as they can remain under Palestinian rule. These ideas have been expressed both by people from the left , who see this as a possible situation in a two-state solution, and by extreme right-wingers and settlers that, while objecting to any withdrawal, claim stronger links to the land than to the state of Israel.

A July 2009 survey of Israeli public opinion found that people are about evenly divided on the issue, with 46 percent of those polled in support of further construction and 44 percent opposed.

Recent events

In January 2009, Israeli political activist group Peace Now stated that settlement construction rose by 60 percent from 2007 to 2008. A classified Israel Defense Forces study allegedly leaked to the Israeli media that month reported that 3 out of every 4 settlement building projects did not have proper permits. Israel-based Palestinian solidarity group Yesh Din argued that the report described Israelis "systematically violating international law and the property rights of Palestinian residents". The Israeli government has not commented on the authenticity of the report. The New York Times has published a Google Maps-based adaptation of the data.

President Barack Obama and his special envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, both support taking down the settlements. In January 2009, Kadima Chairwoman Tzipi Livni vowed to dismantle them should her party win in the that month's election. Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu planned to expand them, saying specifically that "I have no intention of building new settlements in the West Bank... But like all the governments there have been until now, I will have to meet the needs of natural growth in the population. I will not be able to choke the settlements."

On 15 October 2009, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he had ended talks with the Americans over the settlements.

Operation Price Tag

Operation Price Tag is a coordinated tactic adapted by the Israeli settlers movement of attacking Palestinian property in retaliation for attempts by the Israeli government efforts to remove illegal West Bank outposts. Several hundred, mostly young Israeli settlers, are involved. Israeli security forces, the Israeli Defense Force, IDF, are poorly equipped to deal with the outbreak. The Israeli government has responded with a plan to increase law enforcement and cut off aid to illegal outposts.

See also


Further reading

Embed code:

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address